Last spring, I got he chance to to to the 40th telemark festival organized by the great Dickie hall, founder of the North AMerican Telemark Organizasion (NATO).
If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know just how much I respect Dickie’s implication for the sport. I mean, 40 years, that’s just insane.
This year is supposed to be the last so I would not miss it for anything.
With a great group of friends we drove to MRG, thanks to Marie-Claude and Phil for organizing everything. The combo of a great telemark community, this great mountain and your best ski buddies is hard to beat.
Here’s a video of the week end
I’d really like to thank Dickie Hall and all his crew for another great festival. I don’t know if someone will take over Dickie’s festival, but regardless, I promised myself I would go back again this next year. I have met so many great person, and the skiing is just incredible.
In the end, the quality of this festival is the proof that the telemark community is not a fad. Telemark is timeless, and I’ll bet that it’ll still be around in 40 years.
This is my first impression of the Meidjo Binding.
I wanted to do a review for this equipment but warning. I’m not a pro at doing reviews. I’d like to point to my friend Craig Dostie from EarnYourTurns.com for a true review on this binding or actually any review on telemark gear.
He did a complete review of the binding with clear views of all aspect which this review is not. This is more about giving my impressions
I want to mention that I was also trying a new ski, the Corbon Convert and some new boots, the Scarpa TX Pro.
I had a lot of anticipation for this set up. It’s like whenever you go see a movie that you heard was the best of the year. You will be disapointed if it’s just great.
So first the technology of the Meidjo.
This is binding as all the ingredient to become the next big thing in Telemark.
It’s Step In, releasable, It’s light and it’s suppose to ski great.
Plus it’s got low tech touring capacities. When I first wrote about the preproduction model last spring, I was already in awe.
Like I said, It’s got to be a great movie or I’m going to be disapointed.
I think that every body in the telemark tribe looking at this binding for the first time are like, wo, it looks complicated, How do you go from walk mode to telemark mode, it’s such a different design that I didn’t understand it before I actually tried it.
So behold, let check this beatifull design and put it to test.
So I went in the Chic Chocs backcountry for 3 days with some friends and tested the thing.
I’m no used to low tech and getting in and out, I expected it to be hard. Craig Dostie mentionned to me that it was the best fitting low tech he had seen on the market and he was right, It’s fairly easy to get it on.
I like to have the binding in the touing mode to put it on, so their is nothing in the way to get the insert lined up.
To do so, you have to do these steps, harm the binding up, push down and clip the touring hook.
Then, put it on by aligning the the pins witht the boots inserts and press donw, you can wigle a bit if needed to get it on.
Then, to get in telemark mode, release the touring hook and clip on.
This is not the way Pierre, the inventor explains how to put the binding on, because, by doing it this way, I have to bend down, so it’s not a true step in. So maybe with more experience witht the low tech, I will simply arm the binding and step in. In the end I’m so used to bendind down to put on my skis that I really did preffer to do it like this.
On the down side, I had some icing problem once and it prevented me to properly in the second heel. I simply had to manually snap the binding a few times and it was ok. It only happened once. I have to mention that I don’t know one binding on the market that never ice up.
Telemark is a downhill technique
Everybody so far liked the skiing so I was not so worried. Usually, everybody can’t go wrong. I want to point out that there is two dials to adjust tension and that you have the choice to add a second spring on each side for more tension. My good friend Max form Xalibu skis, mounted the binding and had already added the second set of spring knowing my style. It created a really active feeling very close to HamerHead #4. It did not feel like a NTN binding but it’s neither anything like the mellow 75mm binding Black diamond O1 or Voile.
I will play with the springs tension to see all the possibilities
Note on the skis and Boots:
I had never tried the Carbon Convert and this is a solid charger. It’s not at all a mellow soft playful ski that you can push around. It’s a driver and it contributed to my feeling of having a strong set up.
The only odd were the boots. I actually love the Scarpa TX pro, there so comfy, light and warm but I had to adapt to it’s softness.
Conditions were windpack and I had to tighten the boot like mad to get the power I needed.
After a few days, I got used to the boots and it was ok, but I really missed a more powerful boot.
So I would give the Meidjo a strong 10/10 for skiing.
It really delivered in terms of power vs feeling it’s unmatched in my mind except for the HamerHead/Axl and definitely better than the NTN freeride
There is no clear indications on how to set the release tension.
I love the idea that the tension of the release is independent of the tension of the binding activeness. But I would like to know how to adjust the release tension. My tech set it up half way as he didn’t have any more cues.
I had no pre release problem while skiing either on the toe piece or on the second heel, I did not fall either, so really, I did not test this part of the binding.
For me, this was by far the part that interested me the most.
All the TTS family binding alike like the original TTS, the light moon and the Meidjo uses the low tech advantages of what ATers have had the pleasure of having for years. I have never tried the TTS or the Moonlight so I will consider the Meidjo as my first binding that integrates all the benefits of low tech in telemark gear.
What a pleasure.
The touring hook was changed and this is one aspect I was worried about not being user friendly. It never iced, I was easy to operate and I actually love how easy it is to go from walk mode to telemark mode. To go the other way around you have to remove the binding, which is not my favorite thing, but I can live with that
I had tried Plum, which is a light low tech AT binding many years ago and I don’t remember the low tech to be sooooo efficient.
But with the Meidjo: WOW.
In this, I have to consider the whole package. Boots offered great comfort, movement, skis are very light compared to my Amperage and the Meidjo really delivered. Wow again.
Untill I had a lot of release of the pins, with medium side force. This is wrong. I was missing something. All the people can’t be in Awe if this binding is always releasing in walk mode. But where is the walk mode!
This is a great exemple of a telemark skier not used to a completely new design and being confuse. And Although I feel dumb about not finding how to look the front low tech on the binding at first, I’m sure I’m not the only one that will make this mistake.
I kept trying lifting the red tab from ski to walk like on a Dynafit, or any low tech binding I know, this is not how it is…
In the end, I had to read the instructions (I can hear Craig Dostie laughing at me right now) to find that you have to press a big black bar that simply locks the red tab.
Told you, I’m no expert at all the gear
What I’m good at thought is being out in the mountains and telemark skiing. I do more than a lot and this binding delivered in every aspect except one. the Climbing raisers. The red one sometimes fell without any cause. The second wire one was ok. Maybe I still need to read instructions…
In the end, I did not use and of the two climb riser simply because the efficiency of the low tech is that much more. I could easily climd very steep tracks all the way to the skin holding limit so I never fell the need for the risers.
In the end
I have to say that I’m very impressed. The binding hold to the reputation it already have.
Skiing is very good, a strong 10/10 and that’s number one for me,
Touring is exceptional, and it makes the game radically different in the mountains
By far my biggest surprised is that the overall binding is very user friendly. It all makes sense and I got the hang of it very naturally (Okay! except on how to lock the front pins
Time will now tell if it holds up and until then, for me there’s just no point in going back to another system.
On that note, The Meidjo have already made a few adjustments, adding some screws to better hold up, changing the touring hook, which like I said I found very convenient.
Black Diamond R&D guru Doug Heinreich and ski product director Ryan Guess talk about the future of telemark equipment as well as their passion of the mountains. Get to know the behind the scene of the makers of great product like Doug and Ryan, their chalenges and reality.
Although Black Diamond confirms the end of the production of Telemark Boots as reported by Craig Dostie on his blog,Doug opens the doors to new possibilities
Let’s hear about the great story of those two passionate mountain enthusiast in the latest of the Absolute Telemark Tips Podcast.
Check Out this interview with Andy Parisod from The Worst Crew.
He is a avid Telemark Skier that just rips in the terrain park and on the rest of the mountain. It’s really great to see this crew getting telemark to the next level, in an area not many people push Telemark with this much style
Second was to get new people to the sport: last week was the second edition of Elle Telemark and was a blast. 40 girls getting stoke on telemark. WOW
The third part was to do something for the actual community around my area. Last year, we had a BBQ at Le Massif and 30 people showed up which was really great. But I wanted something of a greater impact. For the last two years the Telemark Festival is no more at my home mountain, ironically, since the arrival of our new CEO which is a Telemark Skier. And last year I organized this as a plan B. We even had a little unofficial race on the mountain called the Le Derby de la 42. So much fun!
But this year, I went to a greater length and organized a new Festival.
In a backcountry location I have talked about in this blog, the Jacques-Cartier National Park were I also work. This is important for me because backcountry is getting so popular for snowboarders and skiers. The amount of new ATers is just phenomenal around me. It’s important to create places for the community and also to get together and create a great ambiance.
I want to be able to share this with every one, going out in the backcountry is the main thing. And giving people the opportunity to have a dedicated place is great. Telemark is just the best way in my mind, but I know it will probably never be mainstream (hope I’m wrong). But by being part of the backcountry community in my area, I also want telemark to keep it’s place, to show others the possibilities, the ease, the FUN of it.
Here is the Festivals add:
There’s two parts I’m really looking forward.
We have a GoPro contest with Video Editors that will create short movies and Avalanche Quebec will be here to talk to people about avalanches. And there is no avalanche in our off-piste areas.
The Go-Pro event is a real challenge for a new event because we have no fan base. I can’t wait to see the end result and I’m very nervous about the response of the community. But it’s a great risk that I love in organizing an event.
As for the presence of Avalanche Quebec, It’s like having a Pro hockey coach coming to an event in Florida. People here are so unaware about the risks around here.Chances are, these new adept will one day be in avalanche terrain. I want this festival to be the perfect place to learn about all the components of backcountry.
This is a festival for experience inbound skiers looking for an escape, out of the ressorts and out of rules. But at the same time it’s a mean of learning about all that comes with being in a public land. No security, no patrol, no rescue, that’s the price of no rule in the backcountry.
The challenge of a new area, a new philosophy
The other day a friend of mine was addressing a rightful issue.
– There should be a sign that tell people about the dangers and the responsibility of each individual, he said. I see people coming here so unprepared, not knowing about anything
– We have 3 signs.
– With all those new comers, many are careless and someone will get hurt. The park should have someone at the entrance talking to people.
– We have someone.
I told him that it’s okay to be worried. It’s ok to talk to people if they are mislead, but in the end, wherever you do, people will always assume for the best. It’s the blessing of being unaware of the danger, it’s Yhprum’s law (the opposite of Murphy’s law), the Fate in optimism.
And there right, the vast majority will be just fine.
And then, my friend’s also right, someone will get injured and will not be prepared for it. His Friends won’t be ready for it, and the public won’t be ready for it.
And then it’s the media game that will start. Where the mesures in place ok, where the park rules clear enough…
We need to find someone to be guilty.
Sorry I got carried away.
But it’s true, risk management is a no faults game. I used to patrol for a small resort in Eastern Quebec called Mount Glen. One year it was shot down and sold. The new owners wanted to change it to a residential area. But people kept going to ski and hike. Until one day, a guy got injured. He couldn’t work for a while so he turned to his insurance company who sued the new ownership. You can be sure that nobody ever skied again on Mount Glen.
So back to the festival, oh right I was telling you that my goal was to create a nice ambiance. The good news is that I have chosen a place with moderate terrain, 20 to 34 degree angle, in an open birch tree forest with minimal to no avalanche risk (risk 0 doesn’t exist). The perfect place for advanced riders to come and try a new experience.
The local community is great and a lot of people are really exited about this project. The local shops all jumped in to sponsor the event, the newspapers already covered the project, there is a general interest. Time will tell if we can move from the all organized Mountain resorts to places like the Off Piste in the Jacques-Cartier National Park.
Funny thing is that exactly where this sport as started, 80 years ago.
The Province of Quebec have the honour of being the birth place of skiing in North America (we can debate that in the comments and the story of Jack Rabbit Johansson is about the birth of cross country skiing. But to many here, he was all about skiing, their was no cross country vs downhill and Jack Rabbit could do it all. check out the story here.
Check out this nice short film about the new area I just opened this year. Here’s a nice video with my boss, Mathieu Brunet, a real Tele Ripper
So I dream of this place becoming the center of the local community to come and ski in the backcountry, it’s only 30 minutes from the city. I also hope to become the place for newbies to come and chalenges there skills before going to the regionally famous Chic-Chocs where terrain becomes complex.
And you can be sure that I also want to create a place for people to learn about BC, about there responsibility and about there privilege. You can do anything you want, but you have to stand by those choices.
Last year, at a certain point, I was wondering about the impact of this blog and how I could do better.
I set myself three goals with one of them having more people to start Telemark…
Une partie de la gang
In it’s second year, the Elle Telemark is about the go live.
This year again, it’s Maryse Paquette, a good friend of mine and a true telemark passionate reached out to organized the event. She also happens to be an ambassador for Oakley Active. Great stuff!
Just to give you an example, last week she organized a White Lips event where she got 60 gals introduced to the Backcountry on alpine, telemark and split board.
So this year again, she organizes every details of Elle Telemark (literally She Telemark) . Once again, it should be a blast.
Great Partners Makes The Difference
With incredible partners like Black Diamond Equipment, LeYéti.com who helps a lot with the rental equipment, Mont Sainte-Anne who is the perfect place for this event and who came back this year really wanting this event to grow… WOW. and it has. We have doubled the number of subscriptions to 40.
It’s a small drop in an ocean of skiers and boarders and it’s nothing like the impact of Dickie Hall with NATO but the goal here is just to have a statement. Telemark has a great image and a lot of people are just waiting for an opportunity to try.
The Next Step
Here and now, I will make a statement. My next goal is going to organise a Kids Telemark event. I’m not sure when, I have no idea how, but it will be my next goal. (maybe I can get Maryse to help me!)
Telemark is the best feeling. There is no reason not to believe it’s going to KEEP growing in the future years
She is considered one of the best Big Mountain telemark skier on the planet. Let’s dive in her life as a pro telemark skier. Let’s see exactly how she became one of the top telemark female athlete on the planet. Listen up to the story of Shaun Raskin
Coming back after a season ending injury last January (fractured distal tibia) even walking down stairs hasn't felt natural. So getting my rythm back has been difficult, but watching these videos has helped re-set my brain. Thanks Rene!
Thank you! I'm falling in love with telemark for the 3rd time (at least): I'm sure that's the key for a fun, everlasting relation :) I really enjoy the opportunity to work on my tecnique, explore new sensations and why not improve the esthetics of the gesture. In the end, that's why we all ski tele, don't we?
Hi, I'm Rene-Martin
René-Martin Trudel is a telemark instructor, a ski patroller and a mountain enthusiast. His life has been driven by mountain and snow, professionally for the past 15 years. continue reading.