Matt Filoon and Jessica Soime
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
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
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.