Well Heeled

Like a lot of telemarkers, Nick DeVore crochets his own hats, studies Eastern philosophy, and worries about his carbon footprint (last summer he worked at an organic-veggie stand in Aspen). Unlike a lot of them, the 22-year-old skis as well as the world's best alpine skiers: Last winter, he was the only freeheeler to make it to the finals in the U.S. Freeskiing Nationals at Snowbird, Utah, where he placed 18th. He talked to us from a yoga retreat in Costa Rica.

OUTSIDE: Yoga, huh?
DeVORE: It helps clear my mind and reverses the blood flow after hiking hard. The headstand is a yoga posture that I have been fine-tuning for a while. I do it on top of peaks sometimes. I'm actually trained to be a yoga instructor.

Headstands on jagged rocks? You must like pain.
Yeah. Last winter, a buddy and I competed in the Elk Mountains Grand Traverse, a 40-mile backcountry ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen. It was painful, but it was an adventure. There was a gnarly windstorm, and we got frostbite. It took us nine hours and 48 minutes. But you're out there in the middle of nowhere and there's not much you can do except keep going.

How did you get into telemark skiing?
I started going on winter hut trips in middle school wearing leather touring boots. When I was 14, my family moved to Chamonix, France, and I got my first plastic tele boots. A year later, we moved back and I sold my alpine gear pretty quickly. I'm never going back.

A lot has changed since the days of leather boots.
It's amazing how much the sport has progressed, even in the last three years. Mainly due to the gear and the media. I'm always blown away by how many telemark skiers I see in Aspen now.

What gear is a must-have for you?
I won't leave home without my Giro Fuse helmet with wireless [Tune Ups; $340; giro.com]. It helps get the rhythm going.

Your friends say they call you a dreamer.
Most of my ideas come while skiing in the backcountry. I think mountains emit high energy, and altitude is good for the body and mind. Mountains are great teachers and are amazing places for people to think and learn and listen and watch ... Wow, I guess I just went off. Well, there you go.

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