Telemark may not be dead, but the forum that every fool free heeler used to hang out at, Mitch’s Bar, aka telemarktips.com, has pulled the plug. May it rest in peace.
It quickly became obvious that not only was the telemark community as wild and vociferous as it claimed it was, but Mitch had his finger on the pulse of the free heel crowd and he knew how to stir the pot of controversy. Often all he had to do was call into question the opinions of the then reigning publications spreading the backcountry gospel, Couloir and Backcountry magazines.
He created an unprecedented following and gave us all a preview of how the internet would be used to join like minds across the globe as well as how leaving the door open for anyone to say anything would not only draw a crowd, but also reveal the lack of shame in words and ideas bandied about that comes when everyone cloaks themselves in anonymity. All this from a simple forum devoted to telemark skiing.
Besides launching a forum on a topic that participants were sure to be zealous about Mitch led the way in the use of videos long before YouTube made videos on the internet ubiquitous. Mitch showed that the internet could, should, and would be the medium that could do what all the other mediums did in their own separate space only in one place, from the audio track of radio, the moving pictures of movies, the written word and still pictures of magazines, plus a virtual connection that only the internet could provide. The result was like a rowdy bar that you could drop in on anywhere, anytime. You never needed to use your fists to defend yourself, but woe to those whose hides were thin and their vocabulary thinner.
At the height of its popularity in 2005 telemark tips regularly had hundreds if not thousands of visitors per hour, most lurking, but many posting their own reviews of equipment, trip reports, and insults toward any who disagreed. It was rightly called world famous.
After 2007 interest began to wane. Most subjects related to telemark and backcountry skiing had been dissected in detail ad nauseum. Telemark was no longer the dominant gear for backcountry skiers and though Mitch had always been adamant that his site and forum were about telemark skiing, with backcountry merely being a natural association, when interest migrated away so too did scores of the community of lurkers and posters. Equally to blame was the maturity of the web itself with many of the concepts that telemarktips pioneered becoming full blown separate entities in themselves, like YouTube for allowing everyone to become a movie producer and star. The basic concept of using the web to connect people all over the world and create a virtual social gathering was made more accessible with the likes of FaceBook and other social media such as LinkedIn, Reddit, Twitter, etcetera.
None, of these larger, more connected, more automated social networks have managed to create the sort of community that transcended the virtual and made waves in the world like telemarktips did, from calling out flaws in products that led to recalls and fixes to meeting new ski buddies on the slopes.
Even when the man behind the curtain seemed to have lost interest in the forum himself, the regulars continued to hang on, even more invested in the reputation and atmosphere of Mitch’s Bar than the owner was. The last three years the site has been a tumorous replica of its once vibrant self, full of meaningless, off topic threads that inevitably devolved into childish tantrums of trading insults among the hundred or so regulars who refused to leave until the plug was pulled. From outside it resembled a crippled plane coming in for a landing, bouncing a few times before its inevitable demise. Even with the end imminent, the regulars refused to abandon ship, knowing the end was near but holding on until the final crash. As of this writing, that appears to have happened.
No word from Mitch. It is rumored he received an invitation from SLHMTB to head south for the summer. If the rumors are true he’s been enjoying an extended winter and SLHMTB‘s secret stash of cigars and moonshine ever since. So long my friend. It was a good ride while it lasted. May telemarktips rest in peace.
New forum for TTips refugees