2021, Year of Backcountry Telemark

Yep,

Oh, by the way, this gear selection is often what you guys ask advice about.

This year, I will talk more about my backcountry telemark set-up since it’s this one that I will change this season. Because of the pandemic, this is probably going to be the biggest season ever for earning your turns, so it might apply to you as well.

I can tell you right away that after a very satisfying set up last year, I will go back to what has worked for me in the last few years.

In this post, I share my touring set up.

Disclaimer: I don’t pay for much of the stuff I receive but I can choose pretty much all I want. And I can surely say whatever I want about the gear I use.

Backcountry is the essence of telemark. Skin up, ski down, I first tried in 1996-97 in the Chic-Chocs.

Equipment has evolved and the 2020s should bring a very exciting era. Today’s telemark gear needs to be compared to alpine touring. This industry has made giant leaps in the last 5–7 years and the question is now can a telemark skier keep up with an alpine tourer. This is one of the reasons a lot of people have switched from telemark to alpine setups.

This has been my quest for the last 10 years, trying to keep up with my alpine friends in the Backcountry. Today’s equipment is almost on par, thanks to the binding manufacturers.

My setup for this season is the Helio 115 (now OK to mount with a telemark binding) with the Meidjo. I will keep my Crispi Evo WC boot for a 3rd year.

I received this setup late January 2020, so I’ve actually skied them quite a bit.

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Telemark GEAR

Here is what I use and also some alternate choice I think are good options.

Binding

Because of the NTN, you have to choose to go 75mm or NTN before anything else when you build up your touring kit.

If you go 75mm, I think the Voile Switchback is your only real option. This binding is light, provide a free pivot and the feeling of the downhill will satisfy all the 75mm lovers out there.

If you go NTN, you definitely have to go with a TTS like binding or as Pierre Mouyade, inventor of the Meidjo, calls this binding family: TTN. Telemark Tech Norm

Those bindings are the go-to options for touring. I suggest you choose from the original TTS, the Lynx or the Meidjo.

Pins hold the front of the boot, giving the best ROM (Range Of Movement) and resistance-free stride. This alone makes telemark able to keep up with the alpine tourers.

If you go with a TTS like binding, you will have the freedom and Range Of Movement (ROM) to hike uphill like any alpine tech binding.

All we are missing is the ROM of modern alpine touring boots. I’ve heard that Scarpa is working on a new NTN boot that should provide this but it’s not yet ready.

Still the combo of boots, binding and ski makes for a very decent kit to enjoy the backcountry. And I will say that it’s never been better.

I chose the Meidjo. I will change from the 2.1 to the 3.0 when I receive them. Notice that I have the Alpine Heel Set.

Two years ago I skied a 50-degree chute north of Whistler-Blackcomb. Conditions were perfect, 10 cm of fresh snow, avalanche hazard was low, stability tests were negative. The snow was somewhat dense, coastal like. I don’t get the chance to ski couloirs like that in the winter very often. So I charged the first 10–15 turns, tele-skiing in the wider funnel-like entrance. The couloir then narrowed and the center had slufted down. The 10 cm turned into trashed, irregular, firm snow in the center and soft, dense on the sides. It was really hard to keep my balance between the transitions from the snow sides to the center hard pack irregular snow. Skiing down suddenly became a real life or death experience. I tried a few turns, alpine skiing without locking my heel. It was even harder as I entered the sides, I was losing balance forward. I tried a few turns telemark skiing and the center of the couloir was a real challenge to hold the edge in this super steep couloir. Long story short, I stopped on the side, made myself a nice platform and locked my heels in the Alpine Heelset. I skied the rest of the couloir not in an elegant way but felt a lot safer than the few turns I had just made.

On the pros, the Meidjo is the most complete binding for me.

  • The skiing is just great. Solid laterally, it transfers power like crazy.
  • Its tension is highly adjustable to get the telemark feeling you want. It won’t beat the super stiff Freeride or other full frame binding like the Outlaw X or the BMF but it can be stiff enough to race with.
  • There is a release system!!! And the release system is reliable. It’s not 100% nor are any alpine bindings.
  • The step-in is quite easy (improved on the 3.0 – can’t wait to try)
  • The combo with the alpine heelset is still releasable. And it keeps the same release values.
  • It’s very easy to go from telemark to ski and back. This means that I can telemark most of the time but if I feel that I need it, I can alpine easily.

The Cons:

  • The walk mode is not the most user-friendly.
  • Bindings are prone to icing in the second heel cup, it’s easy to get rid of it but it builds up in spring conditions
  • Not the easiest binding to install
  • The brakes are not for me, just too easy to break (new version this year so this could change.

 

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Boots

This is the missing link. While today’s boot are durable and perform very well on the down, we don’t have the same modern walk mode as alpine tourers. Their boots are significantly better for climbing. You have two routes from here in my mind:

Stay in 75mm boots and choose, light, flexible boots that will provide ease of walking. You will be missing the power to drive the big modern fat skis

Go NTN and use stiffer, higher boots. Here, you will carry more weight, have less ROM. Your stride will suffer but the way down is going to be as good as any modern alpine tourers.

Seventy-five millimeters boots are getting harder to find but Scarpa T2, Crispi XP are very good options.

My Choice: Crispi Evo WC for its stiffness, the fact that it has the tech toe inserts and the heel tech inserts.

The Pros:

  • wrap around liners for stiffness
  • has the tech toe inserts and the heel tech inserts.
  • Very durable [look at the sole after two full seasons.
  • just a solid driver

On the cons:

  • heavy boots compared to alpine touring equivalent (like all telemark boots in this category)
  • old walk mode mechanism compared to alpine touring equivalent (like all telemark boots in this category)
  • clips are not the easiest to undo. This is not a deal breaker, just something to get used to.
  • The liner is not the warmest.

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Skis

The Helio 115 are my go to this season

Last year I was on the Black Diamond Helio 105 with the Lynx binding.

I really liked the combo and it’s one of the lightest setups I ever had.

For me the 105 is a very polyvalent ski that I brought guiding and ski patrolling, inbounds and backcountry. Of course you need snow for this ski to be fun but I liked how skiable it was in other conditions. If you want one ski, this could be it.

This year, I will go back with a wider ski. The Helio 115. Good news the new Helio revamped line-up is now telemark recommended. [BD actually removed the “not recommended for telemark” tag.] This ski is just a great size for powder. I like to guide with it, it floats, it’s playful, it’s just an incredible ski that gives me the most fun.

105 was a bit too skinny at times, and I just didn’t have the same fun. It worked great, but not as fun. It’s the old saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

Because I have a few options to choose from, I want the big boy in the line-up for 2020-21.

The Lynx binding by 22Design is also a great choice that I strongly recommend. Good value, simple design, light, efficient. Step in was not the best for me but I learned that 22Designs have changed a toe piece since my version (I think I had a pre-production version). You can look at my full review on YouTube if you wish.

I will still ski a lot more set-ups like the Bishop’s 100 mm Chedi and their super good binding, the BMF, a few racing skis with the Freeride, a few older 75mm setups.

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Skins

I have used exclusively Black Diamond skins (and Ascension skins prior to that).

In 20+ years, I’ve had maybe 15 to 20 different pairs.

My go-to are the GlideLite Mix.

They’re just a good combo of lightness, placability and grip. These are the important factor for me. Oh and one super important quality is to be able to unglue the skins when they are packed glue on glue.

Last year, because of limited availability when I got my new Black Diamond Helio 115 at the end of January, I had to go for something new.

Skins are a simple product when it works well but it’s a real pain when it doesn’t

I bought a set of Pomoca Pro S-Climb skins.

Pros:

So far, I like them. It’s about the same as the Black Diamond GlideLite but with a better glide. Not a great difference, but noticeable.

Cons:

There are two metal wires that comes in the box. The White is not strong enough, they bent on me and then the modified shape affected how well they stayed in place.

They could just fall off the skins. I changed for the other all gunmetal ones and the problem was solved.

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I will probably add a set up in December or January. I will probably go with a 22Design binding and a more biffy setup.

Not sure what to get? you can look at my Modern Telemark Ski Selection and Problems post coming up soon

 

22Designs Lynx Telemark Binding Review

This is a review of the Telemark binding Lynx from 22 Designs.

A Telemark tech binding made to go touring.



In this video, we are going to be evaluating how it skis, the step in step out, the durability, the tour efficiency and a little comparison with the Meidjo Binding.

The Lynx binding is the latest binding in the 22Designs line up.

22Desings is reputed to build durable bindings, from the HammerHead, Axl, Outlaw X and now the Lynx.

This Lynx binding is made for touring but its telemark descending abilities are quite good as well.

I have mounted my Lynx Telemark binding on the Helio 105 from Black Diamond. Note that Black Diamond does not recommend mounting telemark binding on this ski. If you do, you will void your warranty.

TTS the norm for touring on telemark

The Telemark Tech System family of binding includes the original TTS from OMG, the Meidjo from The M Equipment and now this binding, the Lynx from 22Designs.

The GOOD

Simply put, these bindings are the best at going uphill, touring, skinning. The low resistance of the low tech pin at the toes create this effortless range of movement that no other full frame telemark binding can beat.

So what makes the Lynx stand out?

First, the design of the binding is very innovative with the back link composite construction. This fibreglass link is strong, light and creates good power transfer when skiing. This is really what makes this binding incredible in my mind.

The Lynx binding skis really good. Laterrally, it transfers power edge to edge really good. As you can see in the video, I even tried the Outlaw X to compare bindings. Ofcourse, the Outlaw can be set stiffer, but the engagement and the latteral transfert are on par.

Tension adjustability is one of the most important factors in a modern NTN binding. The fact that you can adjust the Telemark Tele Vector is great, you can dial the amount of activeness you want from three positions, just like on the AXL. Also, you can’t adjust a screw to had or remove tension on the spring, but the addition of a spacer in the spring allows for some adjustability.

When you combine the tele vector and the spacer adjustment, this binding can be adjusted to almost any rider preference.

The BAD

There is not much to say about the bad of the Lynx.

In general it performed really well, was durable, and the design is very good.

I am having some problems stepping in, and I need to be in touring mode all the time, locking the front low tech for my pins to hold my boots.

22Designs is sending me a kit to solving this problem and the 2020 binding shipping now should not have this problem at all.

Also, the second heel anchor didn’t engage all the time and I had to force it in manually a few times.

If you are on the market for a low tech touring binding, I do recommend the Lynx from 22 design as a valid option.

It’s simple, efficient touring, skis really well and should up your game in the backcountry from any full-frame binding.

The Telemark History Ep2: The Evolution of skis and Bindings

This is my Telemark challenge for the season, going back in time with set ups from four different eras.

We will go from the 80s super long skis to today’s wide boards.

Telemark skiing has evolved so much and I’ve kept updating my gear all along.

I want to go back in time and see the advantages we might have lost along the way, or the benefits I get from the modern set ups we enjoy today.

For the 80s set up, we have the Atomic 210 cm ski, with a lot of camber, mounted with the Chili binding from Rottofella. Then, I found my original telemark skis and binding. It is the Karhu Hardbody 203 cm mounted with Rottofella 412, a front-loading binding. I will ride both skis with a Vasque leather boot.

For 90s setup, I have the X-scream from Salomon, a parabolic ski, with the very popular Voile release plate. I also have the Rossignol Big Bang, mounted on the Rainey SuperLoop binding. This ski/binding combo is mine and I have skied it 5-6-7 years, can’t remember. I will ride the Garmon Veloce with these skis.

For the 2000 setup, I have found the Karhu Kodiak, mounted on the 22designs Hammerhead. This is a short ski for me, but it should edge and carve very well. Not in the video, I will also add a Black Diamond AMP ski mounted on a Black Diamond O1 binding. This is a fat ski, very good for powder. I feel that this is the era where people started to buy more than one set up, and choose according to conditions. I will ride both skis with the super-powerful Crispi XR boot.

For the 2010 to today setups are all NTN based setup. We have the Black Diamond Route 88 mounted on the Bishop BMF-R binding. This is my day-to-day patrol ski. I also chose the Helio 105 from Black Diamond mounted with the 22designs Lynx. This is my setup for backcountry telemark and the one I use telemarking in the Chic-Chocs. I might also show you a few other setups I have that are different for that era, plus a surprise. I will ride those with the Crispi Evo WC telemark boot check out the full series for more fun on the telemark history gear review.

 

Telemark Gear Evolution Ep.1: Boots

This season, I will try to go back in time.

I will ski set ups equivalent to the ones I had 20+ years ago moving forward

in time to what I’m skiing today.

If you are a member of my newsletter, you know that I’ve started to mountain bike over the summer and this really inspired my to search for learning patterns.

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This is just a just chalenge I gave myself when I found those beautiful leather boots.

And my goal is to become good enough to patrol in those before the end of the season.

Here is the Equipment I will use:

Set up Vintage:

  • vasque leather boots.

Early 2000 set up

  • Garmont Veloce

2010 set up

  • Crispi XR

2020 set up

  • Crispi EVO WC

I will gatther skis in the next few days and present the different setups.

Every week I get emails asking me about changing from a 20 year old setup to something new and for my advice.

I want to reconnect to those feelings and share my thought

It’s just that, for me, I’ve always changed gear and I remember skiing crazy lines at Whistler on my Tua 70mm skis, with my Scarpa T2’s and I want to know if gear really makes us better.

BMF Bishop Full Review

Bishop BMF Review 1-2

Last season I spent a very good amount of time on the Bishop BMF bindings. I tried the NTN and the 75mm versions.

 

The Bishop Moto: THE GOLD STANDARD IN BADASSERY

Well, that’s true. Their products are badass.

Coming from the very Burly Bishop Bomber was truly a very reliable, biffy binding. It had a very good reputation and thus a following.

Came the NTN revolution and now, the Telemark Tribe need to have NTN boots and binding, right?

Flexibility

Well, the Badassary Mojo is more than that, the BMF comes in an NTN or 75mm option.

They have created the most flexible binding on the planet.

  • You can choose 75mm or NTN
  • If you were to change from 75mm to NTN in the years to come, you can send the binding back to Bishop and they will modify it for you at a reasonable cost.
  • This binding fits all boot sizes. OK not all sizes but there is no small or large option, the BMF can be adjusted from boot sole 270 to 346mm which is about size (mondo 22 to 31) This is really nice for reselling your stuff or replacement parts
  • Plus, you can get a switch plate to easily swap your binding on many skis.

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Skiability

This is the real question and it took me 5 minutes to say that I really liked this binding.

In short, it skies great. It’s powerful, there is no dead zone and the amount of adjustability makes it a great choice for anyone but the purist who want a true neutral feeling

Trying both options is an eye opener. Really!

To a point where I want a go back to 75mm.

BMF 75mm

Okay not full time but still, I had so much fun.

First off, the 75mm is just a great option that skies really good. It’s powerful yet you can adjust it the way you like, to get a more neutral feeling.

Plus, when you think about it, this 75mm binding is the holy grail of 75mm binding. Well almost.

  • You can a great skiability
  • You get brakes
  • you can an incredible step in

This is what resort skiers have been asking for decades.

As for no dead zone, that is something 75mm bindings have always struggled to achieve. The way this binding is engaging the boot is superb for the experts telemark skiers that demands a reliable balance in all the phase of the turn.

BMF NTN

The NTN version is also a very good binding that delivers a lot of punch. I quite enjoyed them and this has rapidly become my go to binding for the resort.

The real big difference over the competition is the ease of the step in step out. It really is better than anything else I have tried.

For this, I will mention that boot has an impact on this so take this considering I’m skiing with the Crispy Evo WC. But honestly, this is the closes we have ever been to the real step in of an alpine binding. Having a binding with a brake, that you can easily step in and out is such a joy when you are working as a ski patroller. It really makes my days easier.

Touring or not touring

As binding have become more and more active, you need a resistance-free mode to walk around the mountain. The Bishop offers their binding in the R version (stand for Randonnee) or the 3 (for non-touring.

This is really great because if you don’t need the touring option, you can save some money and weight and get a traditional binding.

But if like most of us, you end up adventuring in the backcountry, they offer a touring, resistance-free mode. Okay, it’s still a full frame binding, but it’s the best there is. It’s got a great ROM that the Outlaw X according to my tests.

Durability

Like I often say, I’ve never had a telemark binding not fail on me. And the BMF did have minor issues. Watch the video above for in depth description of my problems. But, like most companies, this problem was fixed during the season and I think it’s safe to say that this is one of the most durable bindings on the market.

Final Thoughts

Bishop as nailed it. Really.

If you are looking for a resort binding, if the step in step out is something important look no further, the BMF is just above the competition.

It skis very well in both 75mm and NTN version, it’s super flexible and will last you a long time.

The only thing still missing is a release binding. For that, you will have to look at the Meidjo which as the most sophisticated one on the market (Just my thoughts here, no hard data showing this)

Just to be clear, I still think the Outlaw X is a viable option. The 22 design Outlaw X only real disadvantage is the step in with a brake.
The price is still a major bump. At the time of posting, the price for the BMF-R is 699$ USD vs the Outlaw X at 399$ USD.

So you will probably use the switch plates and all the flexibility this binding as the offer.

 

My Teaching Philosophy for Telemark Instructors

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Hello Telemark Tribe,

 

I was contacted by CANSI, the Canadian Association of Nordic Skiing Instructor to write a paper to my fellow instructors. Unfortunately, it never got published so I taught I could share it here.

Here is what I wrote for my fellow teachers.

 

When I teach telemark skiing, my number one objective is for every student to retain a clear learning objective and to know precisely how to achieve it. 

Too many times, I have taken the wrong approach by trying to have my students find instant results with advice such as: “Do this, move like that…” Sometimes it works. But often, it does not.

As telemark skiing instructors, we want to give our students several tools to achieve a given movement. Our goal is for them to be confident in the way they improve.

Introduction— The Absolute Telemark Way:

Every time I meet with students, I want to know two things: What they feel good about (their Positives) and what they want to improve (Their Objectives).

 

The positives

First, I will ask them about their experience, their strengths and what they have improved on recently. My goal is to quickly assess their mental game, because learning starts in one’s head. I am looking for positive thoughts. I will ask about things that they feel good about:

  • Types of terrain (groomers, steeps, trees…)
  • Types of turns (short, long, speedy or not…)
  • Types of telemark stance (low, active, high…)

I only ask specific questions if they cannot seem to bring positive ideas. I want to know what makes them feel good before what they want to improve.

If they are new to telemark skiing, I will ask them about their skiing or snowboarding abilities, or other sports they practise. 

 

The Objectives

Subsequently, I will ask them about their expectations and what they hope to improve.

All this takes about three minutes. If I have a large group of students, I will shorten this part and go for a direct question:

“Describe your telemark skiing experience and comfort level.”

Once I have compiled everyone’s input, the lesson starts. 

I could go many ways from here, groups, first timers… But for this article, we will use the example of a one-on-one lesson with an experienced telemarker searching to improve.

 

Initial Approach

We start with a warm up run. I will lead for the first third of the way. Then, I will stop to see how my student is doing. I will then let them take the lead so that I may assess these points:

  1. What is making them waste energy?
  2. How is their body balanced?
  3. What path or choice of lines do they make going down the mountain?

I want to integrate the student’s requested areas of self-improvement to what I observe and apply it to a specific type of terrain. 

 

The Path to Improvement

People like to know promptly what you think of their skiing. I will often stop my students before the end of the first run to give them immediate feedback. If you both see eye-to-eye, their confidence in your teaching skills will be boosted.

Be forthcoming in your evaluation but, formulate it so that they feel their past efforts were not in vain. Remember to remind them that what they are doing is working for them. 

“If you do something and you feel it’s working, then it’s working. If you feel like you are doing something wrong, then it’s most likely wrong.”

It is that simple!

 

Then, introduce one thing that they could improve on. It has to be related to their learning objectives. It does not have to be directly related. But it needs to be brought up as part of their progression plan. For example:

“I see that you have good balance and that your telemark stance is solid. This is good because it will enable you to gain more rhythm, make tighter turns in the steeps like you talked about achieving. One of the keys to really improve your rhythm is how you use your hands.”

BOOM! 

 

You just reminded them of their positives, you have pointed out a possible solution for them to reach their goals. The direction: better rhythm, and the way to get there: your hands, are clearly pointed out. 

You now have their full attention. They will focus on doing precisely what you suggest, knowing that it will lead to them achieving their goals.

 

Building a Plan

This is the “easy” part. This is what we do as a telemark skiing instructor: Build a series of exercises that will get your student to discover new movements, thus getting them to where you think they should be.

Here are a few things that make a plan work regardless of the selected drills:

 

Share the Plan Before Doing the Exercises. 

Take a minute to explain to your student the expected outcome of your plan. 

What will they gain? If the exercise is about hand movement to increases pivot or rhythm, tell them. Relate it to the end goal; Hands = one step closer to their objectives.

 

Move Quickly From One Exercise to Another. 

Do not stick with one exercise, even if it is working. If it is working, find a variation. If it is not working, find out why and try to address it in the next exercise. 

Find “Ah! Ha!” Moments. 

If you feel that your student has had a great gain, celebrate it. Talk about the success. Try to integrate it to their skiing.

 

The Psychology of Learning

 

Remember the moment you learned something new and how you felt about your past struggles, your previous failures and successes? That is the teacher’s challenge!

Now that your students have been working hard for an hour or two, get them back to something they feel good about: terrain, types of turns, body position…

 

Finish With a Positive. 

Find a way to reveal their original skills at the end of the lesson. Link the newly acquired skills to their original positives. If you did it correctly, your student will feel like they have improved one or more aspects of their telemark skiing technique. They will know what to work on to keep improving. They will associate their learning to you, the instructor.

The worst scenario is a student leaving the lesson more confused than before. They will feel frustrated because they just do not get it. 

Or worse, they will think that they have to learn something completely different because they had it wrong all along. This mindset will not lead to a quest for improvement.

 

Remind yourself the following:

  • Everybody learns at their own pace.
  • Everybody can execute something in the way their mind tells them to; But the mind has to send the correct instructions.
  • You are responsible for the message in their minds.
  • Practice remains the number one factor for improvement.
  • There is more than one road to progress. 
  • Remember that your taught approach is not the only way to success.

 

Finally, you have to remind your students the number one rule of learning:

“If it feels good, it probably is. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.” 

Because you finished the lesson on something that your student already felt like they were good at, the positive effect will create a good mental state to keep working and improving. 

 

But there is more to it… It is called proprioception!

I will talk about proprioception next time. In the meantime, you can Google it if you are curious.

That’s it for now,

René-Martin his a certified telemark instructor. He is the creator of Absolute Telemark. You can book a private lesson here

 

 

 

GEAR Talk: What skis should you get

via the National museum of Australia

In the twenty plus years I’ve been telemark skiing, I’ve tried quite a bit of skis. I generally try about 5 to 10 every season. Some years, it’s been 15. One season, I got to try DOZENS.

This was a ski test for a magazine. The funny thing is that almost all the tester found the same ski to be the best.

More on this in a bit…

In this blog post I want to answer one of the most asked question I get, mainly through my email newsletter which you can join here.

Today, Lloyd wrote and asked me that really hard question. (thanks Lloyd):

I would love to have an all-mountain ski with an NTN setup that I could use in the tight east coast bumps and trees while also using in the deeper stuff.

This question is really hard to answer.

First there is no ski that is perfect. There is always some compromise.

And most people I know have 2 pairs or more.

But, it’s still possible to get only one and have fun every day…

The Best Quiver All-Around Ski

Before I can answer, and give you my best tip when choosing your next all around skis, let me tell you about why this is a difficult question

I like to compare this to cars.

Do you want an all around car:

  • for the family, like a minivan,
  • for the off-road and city, like a Subaru,
  • a SUV so you can bring all you gear, go on long drives and tow your trailer
  • a pickup truck so you can work and still pick up your little girl at the day care

You get the point, not every body’s all around is the same and gear has changed so much over time. If you change your skis every 5 to 10 years, this post will help you even more.

Skis are described with different metrics.

In the 90’s, we liked to talk about the turning radius. It was the birth of the carving era

In the early 2000’s, we liked to talk the ski waist width size as a starting point, it was the birth of the Fat skis era

in this decade, we were introduce to rocker vs camber. The waist size have gone back down, and the rocker replaces super wide fat skis

Other metrics are the tip width, tail width, length, build material and the weight. There is more, but let’s keep it to that.

Wow, that makes for a lot of talk.

I will keep it simple and start the quest of the perfect ski with one metric.

Ski width

This metric is the most important for one reason, your feet

Most foot are between 98mm and 102mm wide

From this metric you have to choose your skis to be narrower or wider than your foot.

Because everybody’s feet are unique (some are more than 106mm) and that I want to make a general rule, let’s average  a foot’s width to be at 100mm.

Under 100mm

When you are edging, your knees and hips are making a leverage of the ski to tip on it’s edge. A narrow ski will require less force to edge and to maintain the edging. An exaggeration of this is ice skates which are so easy to go from edge to edge that the challenge is to stay straight on the tiny blade.

Under 100mm, your ski will be:

  • easier to edge,
  • nimble and quick turning,
  • best for hard packed snow, moguls, carving, couloirs…

Above 100mm

The great gain above 100m is the floattability in powder. This has changed the game and made skiing in powder effortless.

Above 100, your ski will be:

  • good in soft snow, floating easily
  • create more momentum force in the ski, making it efficient in hard snow conditions like crud, chopped snow, wind packed, heavy spring snow and so on

Rule #1

If you want an all around ski, aim for a ski close to 100. the most popular will sit from 95mm to 105mm

New Metrics

The Rocker:

One of the newest metric was invented by Shane McConkey and Peter Turnerrocker

Rocker is the way the tip or tail of the ski raise to create a banana look. It’s also called reverse-camber.

Camber is the the opposite. Camber is the amount of bounce a ski have under foot.

Rocker is always in the conversation but is overrated if you ask me.

It is not the most important metric  as most skis nowadays have both rocker and camber to some degree. And the ratio rocker-camber is more and more constant from brand to brand within the given kind of ski. It’s like if the compagnies had tried a lot of combinations and found the same recipe to be the best. This is highly debatable since every one have their opinion on rocker.

Here’s mine:camber Don’t worry about rocket too much.

I will advise against full rocker ski, a ski without any camber.

Carbon skis

The other metrics I pay attention to is the construction of the ski, mainly a popular option, carbon. A few years back, the trend was to put titanium plates called Titanial. (It’s still very popular but it’s added with other materials)

Carbon is more and more used to save weight in ski construction and it gives great rigidity. One of the challenge for telemark skiers is to have a ski not so rigid at the tip so that the back ski doesn’t sink too much under the snow.

The tip tendency to dig under is accentuated by the NTN system bindings, which are very active. Combined with a stiff tip, it can really become unskiable.

Rule #3

If you go carbon just make sure the flex is still smooth at the tip. I have had great experience with carbon skis and bad ones. For example the Black Diamond Verdict 100mm ski had a super rigid design (because of Titanial, the point is the same here), and the tip part was also very rigid. This was great if you alpined ski. But for Telemark, it was just too stiff and face plants were more than frequent.

Tip curve

This is a new metric for me. There is a trend to have really shallow tips raise. They only rise a few cm off the ground. I’ve never ask a rep but I think this is to better control spatula vibrations.

Be careful not to get a ski that has barely no curve in the tip.

Again, the back ski will tend to dig under the snow. In a mogul run, it gets really hard to get the back ski over the bump.

I’ve had this problem with the Helios 95 from Black Diamond. But I did not have that problem with the Helios 105 or 116.

FYI: I had the Helios 95 in a shorter than usual length for me. I usually choose around 178-182cm and I tried to go 173cm. This combo of short ski and shallow tip raise made it hard to telemark in variable conditions and bumps.

 

The ski that all testers liked

It was 2005. The telemark tribe was at it’s height and a magazine had us try all the telemark skis on the market. K2, G3, Black Diamond, Rossignol…

All the best telemark skiers of my province were gathered to try and evaluate the skis.

I found it really hard to put in words the feeling proper to every skis. Even more interesting, some testers express the same feeling in completely different words than mine.

But in the end, there was one ski that everybody ranked #1 or #2. It was the clear winner. Great, let’s buy that ski.

If you look at the metrics of that ski today, it would not fit in the all around quiver that Lloyd is looking for.

It was the K2 World Piste if I remember correctly.

This is the description K2 had put up:

The K2 World Piste is a all-around mid-fat ski. A 78mm waist and 114mm shovel let this ski perform in Bridger cold smoke or Baker wet cement. Titanal construction and lightweight wood core make the ski nimble and responsive. If you can only afford one pair of skis check out the World Piste Tele ski.

78mm waist!

Performs well in wet cement!

What, this is crazy. Compagnies don’t make all around skis so narrow anymore.

But this is not the best part. Although the K2 WP were a favorite, it’s the rest of the skis evaluation that got me thinking a lot.

All the skis were OKAY.

There was no real bad ski. No lemon. And skis today looks nothing like the ones in 2005-2006.

The point I’m making here is that skis evolve so much over time. They really improve. What if I skied a 78mm ski today? Would I be able to do the same stuff? Moguls and carving for sure. But Powder and Wet cement?

Maybe 10 years from now, my tips on buying an all around ski will be completely wrong, given new metrics. Maybe not. But from a one year pool, skis do look alike in the same categories.

Final Thoughts

Lloyd, if you ski on hard pack, Eastern snow, I would go for under 100mm. If you ski out West and ski mainly in good snow, I would go just above 100mm.

My choice would be something like the Black Diamond Route 95 or the Helios 105 (mounting telemark binding is not recommended  on the Helios but I do it anyway. If you choose to do so, remember that you have been warned not to)

In your case, a 95mm to 100mm ski would be perfect if you only want one ski.

I will also strongly advice you buy your skis from a dedicated telemark shop like Telemark Down, Freeheel Life or one close to your location.

The advice these shops will give you go way beyond just the skis, factoring in tips on binding (types, mounting…) and boot (fitting, type of liners, height of cuffs…)

I always says that we have to think about equipment as a combo, not just individual piece. This explains why 80mm skis where good all around 15 years ago. The boot, binding, ski combo went all together.

As a small community, we have super passionate people involved in our sport. These shops cannot afford to have a bad reputation just to make a sale.

Note:

Telemark is a technique first, you can do it in a variety of equipment, places, style. I take the liberty of talking of the branch I know best and that I get the most questions about. But by no means, I wish to deter the other styles, from cross-country to leather nordic skiing, all the way to the big mountain freeride… Telemark is awesome

 

Selling used gear

Hey Guys,

 

I’m selling a few items. All used.

RMT00311 RMT00313

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

350$ CAD 185cm Skis with 2 years of use.

Have been collecting dust for the last 2 years.

Have been drilled another time with Outlaws.

The base is clean but dry.

A wax will erase all scratches visible on the picture Binding is in good working condition I will repair the second binding cable as I have all the pieces.

These skis have plenty of life left in them.

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/2298709773733513

 

 

 


 

 
RMT00300

RMT00309

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1000$ CAD obo

 
175cm. The Ultimate telemark setup for backcountry.
With the Alpine Heelset to have lock the heel in alpine.
 
Best setup I’ve ever had. Bare none.
 
The skis are worth $1000 USD
Fix worth $600 USD
Alpine heelset worth $250 USD
 
The skis are in fair condition. Some plastic came off the topsheet. Base have some scuffs but nothing major. Edges are clean.
Overall some good life left in them.
 
The binding have a factory defect. I haded duct tape (see photo) for the walk mode to really stay in place. Also the Heelset are missing small metal part at the back to put the binding in alpine mode. You don’t need this, has you can easily active the alpine mode with a light pole tap.
 
This is not for beginners. Skis are just phenomenal in my mind. Binding tour like no other, the addition of the heelset have been a great addition
https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/242999003045484

 

 

 
 

 

 

Contact me via facebook if interested. You pay for shipping. Selling in North America only.