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The Sun Valley Guide magazine is distributed free three times a year to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area communities.

Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express newspaper will receive the Sun Valley Guide with their subscription.

Matt Filoon and Jessica Soime 

A tandem
telemark tryst
Michael Ames discovers marital bliss on the slopes of Bald Mountain. Photos by Chris Pilaro.

At the annual Sun Valley Hawaiian Nationals Telemark race—one of the boldest rites of spring on Bald Mountain—the tandem tele pairs are the stars of the show.

Costumes and absurd styles are the norm at this classic ski-town extravaganza, but it’s the spectacle of synchronized knee drops that turn out the crowds each April. Two skiers on one pair of skis, the tandem tele tango is a sight to behold.

Last winter, one team quickly became legendary. As other couples kicked and spasmodically jerked through the race gates, Matt Filoon and Jessica Soime injected some brief ballet into the slapstick afternoon. Most teams were lucky to pass three gates, much less post a time through the entire giant slalom course. But these married yoga instructors demolished the competition. Their coordinated knee drops (“one-two-three, and kick…”) were executed with the balance of one athlete. The two danced downward to a convincing win.

Filoon and Soime had an ace up their sleeves. They were married on Baldy in 2002 at the Roundhouse Restaurant. For their grand exit, the couple had a surprise for their guests. Rather than take a sleigh-ride or even a chairlift into the sunset of marital bliss, they mounted a pair of skinny, no-name 220s and free-heeled into their future.

The skis were found, as so many good things are, at Ketchum’s Gold Mine Thrift Shop. They mounted two sets of telemark bindings, painted on some rosy red hearts and began to practice weeks before their wedding.

Matt Filoon and Jessica Soime inject some tandem tele glamor into an afternoon of slapstick skiing.

At the outset, the outlook was grim. “The first time we did it, it was a disaster,” Filoon recalls. “We called them the ‘divorce skis’ right from the beginning.” The pioneering couple stuck with it though, turning heads while training on Dollar Mountain and lower Warm Springs run on Baldy.

When Filoon and Soime want to get up on a hill these days, they usually head into the backcountry—on separate pairs of skis. But one sunny day this spring, they donned their wedding clothes (also Gold Mine treasures), returned to their stomping grounds and invited the Sun Valley Guide along. They are forced to briefly separate when riding the lifts—she walks, he stays on the sticks—but when gravity is on their side, they reunite.

After their triumph at Hawaiian Nationals, these sunny spring days are no longer just practice. They may not like to admit it. They may know they look a bit silly. But as the two heels lift and burn past you on Flying Squirrel, you can sense the joy. Smiles are plastered on their faces, one right behind the other.