Tele vs. Alpine vs. Snowboard

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Joshua Reddekopp
Joshua Reddekopp

How You Ride Steamboat Says a Lot | The Good, The Bad and the Funny

Despite the new Wild Horse Gondola and Mahogany Ridge chair increasing the ways to get up the mountain, there are still only three real ways to get down: freeing your heel, locking and loading, or riding the tray. Below, we take a look at a few idiosyncrasies of each. 

The Telemarker 

Robson Hatsukami Morgan
Robson Hatsukami Morgan

Personality Type: MIPM (Most Interesting Person on the Mountain)

We’ve all heard cliché lines as “Fix the heel, fix the problem.” But to that, our tele brethren gleefully respond, “Drop the knee, or drop the sport.” Truth is, our mountain—low angle and powderful as it is, with short backcountry shots perfect for the quick wax-scootches—lends itself perfectly to the art of tele, which is why they’re always out here preaching the superiority of their so-called superior method of mountain travel. For those uttering, “What the…I wish they’d just all go back in the woods where they belong,”  they’re here to stay, kneepads and all. And they’ve even upped their game, with bindings with free-pivot modes for touring, the New Telemark Norm (NTM) system (who’s “Norm,” anyway?), and other advancements. So they wear more duct tape than the rest of us…who cares? Telemark skier are a tribute back to the days when Carl Howelsen himself brought skiing to Steamboat, minus the leather straps. And even if it’s not your everyday method of shred, to those dropping their knees all the way down Whiteout, we salute you. 

The Good: More faceshots, quicker transitions, softer boots

The Bad: Carrying your skis (‘cuz they don’t stick together)

The Funny: Constantly going ass-over-teakettle 

Sample Tele Jokes

Q: How many telemark skiers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A1: Ten…one to do it and nine to day, “Dude, nice turn.”

A2: Two. One to hold the bulb and one to smoke enough pot to make the room spin.

Q: What do you call a tele-skier fallen in the snow?
A: A jib.

Q: What’s the translation of the Norwegian word “telemark?”
A: “Hey guys, wait up!”

Q: How do you know if there’s a tele-skier at your party?
A: They’ll tell you.

Q: What’s the difference between a tele-skier and the Lord?
A: The Lord doesn’t think he’s a tele-skier.

Q: What does a tele skier say when you sneeze around them?
A: I bless you.

Q: How do you find a tele skier in whiteout conditions?
A: The smell.

Q: What did the telemarker say when he ran out of weed?

A: Man, these bindings suck.

The Snowboarder 

Karsten Winegeart
Karsten Winegeart

Personality Type: SKID (See Knuckles I Drag)

Founded by the late, great Jake Burton, snowboarding was always destined to occupy the role of disruptive little brother. On the mountain, ‘boarders proudly flaunt their Bart Simpson roots with second-hand outerwear and loose crews of breakneck speed riders that fly down the Daze like their unofficial hero shreds the streets of Springfield. Besides offering its faithful the benefit of handling every type of snow of possible (breakable crust to hero pow), riding is and always will be the most stylish form of expression in the terrain park. That is, until skiing can create comfortable boots and a trick that is as equally cool as the method grab. Call them knuckle-draggers, one-plankers, shredders what have you…Steamboat might be Ski Town USA, but this baggy-pant clique is here to stay. Cuz’ there really isn’t anything better than throwing a huge heelside wake in the pow. 

The Good: Method grabs, powder

The Bad: Blind spots, catching an edge

The Funny: Scooching across the flats

Sample Snowboard Jokes

Q: How many snowboarders does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Three, on to screw in the lightbulb, one to film it, and one to take pictures.

Q: What do you say to a snowboarder wearing a three-piece suit?

A: “Would the defendant please rise.”

Q: What’s the first thing a snowboarder says when he meets you? 

A: “Sorry dude”

Q: Three snowboarders are in a car, who’s driving?

A: The cop

The Alpine Skier

Matthieu Petiard
Matthieu Petiard

Personality Type: JLEE (Just Like Everyone Else)

The stats don’t lie. There are more alpine skiers than any other winter sport sans hockey. And with fat skis for pow and carvers for the corduroy, they are the powerful yet mostly silent majority on the mountain. Although some old-school skiers still hold out-loud animosity towards snowboarding or any other form of mountain travel for that matter, skiing is a mostly accepting, albeit homogenous group. Turns out its homogenous nature is also the biggest problem facing skiers, as their singular vision of mountain fashion (see Patagonia kit with Smith goggles and helmet) makes distinguishing individuals disturbingly impossible. But the technology lets you rip, plain and simple, and you ask for a better posterchild than Mikaela Shiffrin. 

The Good: Still the fastest possible way down the mountain (Guinness World Record: 157mph)

The Bad: Walking in ski boots, stairs, bone spurs

The Funny: Outdated anti-snowboarder vibes

The AT Skier: 


Personality Type: HYSS (Have You Seen my Strava?)

Up at the crack of dawn, these tightly clad mountain athletes are built for speed, at least on the uphill. Although their descents are sometimes far from graceful (at least on  ultra lightweight set-ups), they find peace in posting their parking lot-to-Thunderhead Strava time before sitting down at their office job. There’s a 50/50 chance their dog is named after a national park. While many claim the word “Randonee” is French for “Can’t Tele,” ask them and they’ll reply that AT stands for “Already Tele’d.”

The Good: Heels that lock, uber lightweight, boots with walk mode, look cool

The Bad: Pre-releasing pin bindings, frozen step-ins on transitions

The Funny: Ultra-tight ski-mo pants

Sample AT Jokes

Q: How many ATers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Depends if they’re using they’re heel lifts! (Yes, we made that one up ourselves).

Q: What did the ATer say to the grooming machine?

A: “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” (That one, too).

Q: What do you call an ATer anticipating a climb through a pine forest?

A: Skinning on pins and needles. (And, yes, that one also).