016-Mark Lengel Inventor of the Telemark Tech System (TTS)

tts_ecweb

For this episode of the Absolute Telemark Tips Podcast, I meat with Mark Lengel.

He is the inventor of the original binding TTS, the first that came out on the market with a low tech front attachment.

This true pioneer is so passionate about telemark, the turn, the feeling. His invention as turned head from the start and is sure to attrack a lot of followers in the years to come.

TS_banner

Links For The Show

Olympus Mountain Gear (the TTS web site)

Mountain shop – Portland

Montain Gear – Spokane

Wasatch turn (couldn’t find a link, if you know them, please email me: info@absolutetelemark.com)

Red Shred – William Lake

Awesome Telemark Skier

Mark White

The Gear talked about in this episode

In chronological order

 

riva original

riva original

riva3

riva 3

rottefella 412

rottefella 412

superloop

Rainey superloop

bindings_22_designs_HammerHead

Hammerhead

Rottefella-NTN-Freeride

Rottefella-NTN-Freeride

NTN FREEDOM

NTN Freedom

outlaw

22 Design Outlaw

Scarpa F3

Scarpa F3

TerminatorX_2012b_low

Terminator X

Scarpa NTN

Terminator TX pro

EVO-NTN

Crispy EVO-NTN

Review of the Meidjo Telemark Binding

Meidjo

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.

First,

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

Release

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.

Touring

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.

014: Interview with Black Diamond’s staff, the death of the Telemark Boot line up?

Black-Diamond-Inc.-logo
TS_banner

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.

Links in this Episode

 

Alex Lowe wiki

Scarpa Terminator

BD Tele Sauvage

Voile CBR

Spaderman binding

Telemark leash or no leash

telemark leash

Do you use leash on not releasable telemark binding in the resorts.

On all skis or boards, you need to have a system to hold or stop the device from going down if it were to leave your feet. Image a ski or board going down a slope at great speed hitting someone on the head and killing him. It’s happened, I’m sure.

As a ski patrol, I have seen a lot of dangerous situations and a few close calls.

On Alpine skis, the fact that the binding is releasable, brakes have been the norm for quite a while.

On snowboards, a leash should be attached to one of the legs. This practice is not followed by any snowboarders I know. The reason is quite simple, the binding system is very reliable. 20 years back or so, I remember seeing bindings rip from boards after a hard landing and going down like crazy. I’ve seen this happen with alpine skis and telemark as well.

Telemark skiers are mostly responsible people and most of them use leashs to link the boots to the binding. If after a great fall, if the binding was to release, the skis would go nowhere.

Now there is a few telemark bindings that comes with release and brakes so we’ll leave these out of the conversation.

 

I don’t use a leash and have been doing so for 10 years.

I know, I know, that’s not very wise. Quite stupid frankly.

And you are right. If my binding was to release for no reason, my ski would go down like a missile.

But it’s never happened.

That’s another stupid thinking I know.

Then comes risk management.

 

Risk zero does not exist.

Any living is doom to end. The goal is to rationally choose the most acceptable path to the end.

Water is dangerous so we learn to swim.

Telemark binding are not safely held to the boot so we put a leash.

My years of experiences have thought me that binding tension will always loosen, so I’ve made a rule to always check that the tension is all good. And that’s always  been enough to keep my binding to my feet, unless a great fall. Like a really good bail.  And then, I’m kind of happy that the ski releases.

This has happened to me a few times. Manly in tight woods, where the skis got stuck and got riped from my feet.

See what I mean at 2:50

That one time, I was skiing with a demo ski and it had a leash. I injured my leg on the scene. When my leg when under the snow, I felt the binding go with out to much tension, then I felt the leash hard wire create a large amount of tension. It broke. At the time, I was sure I had blown my knee, but luckily, after a week, I was good to go…

 

So, did the leash do it’s job?

NO

It did not prevent the ski from becoming a missile.

And it injured my knee in the process

 

Managing the Risk

As I said, it’s all about reducing the risk to an acceptable minimum.

This is what I see as a ski patrol, 99% of the time:

  • For telemark skiers. If they have to remove their skis in a steep slope, they will have a lot of difficulty to put it back on. and sometimes, one of the skis will escape…. Missile of dead
  • For snowboarders, beginners will remove their snowboard to walk down a harder section. The board will slip out of their hands for what ever reason, and the missile is launched.

Now there is still that 1%

That’s where risk management comes in place. Is that 1% were the missile launch could have been avoided by a leash.

Leashes are not a no fail system as seen in the video. And they don’t even avoid the main danger’s I’ve seen.

It’s now accepted in the snowboard scene that leashes are non sense and, around me at least, you never see a snowboarder wear one.

For the telemark scene, I don’t think it’s that much different.

Make sure your binding tension is right every time you put the ski on. That will save you and the surrounding skiers 99.9% of the time.

Then if you feel more secure wearing a leash please do. Especially if you’re a beginner and you are not aware of what is the right tension in your bindings… Or if you are using older bindings that did not create as much tension.

 

A new NTN and TTS telemark Binding made in France: The M Equipement

M-equipement-photoprototype resize

I hope you are well seated.

This is the most exiting news I’ve seen this year. Damn, in years.

A true, one piece TTS binding with Step in and Release capacities.

A prototype is starting to hit the French Alps, The M Equipment (www.the-m-equipment.com) as just release this prototype. It’s an Hybrid of the NTN system and the Tech system used in TTS. It looks just amazing.

If I had to describe a perfect Telemark binding, the M equipment would be pretty close

  • Great downhill stiffness,
  • Tech touring capacities,
  • Step in,
  • Ski brakes (not on the prototype),
  • Releasable,
  • Light,
  • Crazy light,

<a href=”https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/absolute-telemark-tips-podcast/id935522187?mt=2&uo=4″ target=”itunes_store” style=”display:inline-block;overflow:hidden;background:url(https://linkmaker.itunes.apple.com/htmlResources/assets/en_us//images/web/linkmaker/badge_subscribe-lrg.png) no-repeat;width:135px;height:40px;@media only screen{background-image:url(https://linkmaker.itunes.apple.com/htmlResources/assets/en_us//images/web/linkmaker/badge_subscribe-lrg.svg);}”></a>

See this video to get STOCKED

And at (less than) 800 grams, it’s not light, it’s ridiculously light.

 

But there is more than weight to a telemark binding.

 

RIP WITH OUR TELEMARK TUTORIALS

Videos that will change your telemark

How does it ski ?

The prototype was tried by my good friend Frank from Telemarcoeur.com

Frank was called by a guy he’d never hear of to meet in a parking lot to see his new telemark binding prototype. Pierre Mouyade, engineer, and telemark skier had the next big thing to show. What a surprise Frank had. He couldn’t wait to try them on. He manage to borrow a pair of Scarpa TX pro (which he found too soft for the binding !) and of he went to La Meije to try the M Equipment prototype (see the original review here, use Google Translate if you don’t understand French)

Because Google Translate has it’s limits here’s a summary. He describes the binding as a very good prototype, very close to the final version. Frank was impressed by the feeling, very close to the NTN, coupled with the touring capacities of a Tech binding. he noted the attention to details on the prototype, he liked the step-in, the 6 holes mounting pattern and the great touring efficiency of the Tech toe piece. On the down side, the binding was not a good match for the Scarpa TX pro, the boot was too soft. Seb Mayer, a pro telemark skier from La Grave also tried the binding with the Crispi EVO boots and did not have that problem. In the end, both Telemark skiers  loved the binding.

 

M-equipement-photo-pierre1

Pierre Mouyade – Engineer and inventor

 

If the commercial version can deliver, my prediction is that this is most probably the Editor’s choice of next year in many reviews.

We will try to get in touch with Pierre for more details so stay tuned…

 

UPDATE: Introducing Meidjo

We reached Pierre again and good news for all those of us who are waiting for the commercial version, the Meidjo

It is now in production and it will be launched on November 1st.

Check out our interview with Pierre here

Check our blog for more info, Pierre promised to give us so scoops in the next fews weeks

in the meanwhile check out the m-equipment website for this

presentation-en-Meidjo

 

 

[ois skin=”M Equipment”]

where to look

faceshoot on where t look

Where to look when we telemark is crucial in our ability to analyze the terrain and react.

Simply said, looking in front is a good start, of course. But there is more to it. Not only is it one of the most important skill to develop but one advance skier can become an expert by changing the way he looks at his surroundings.

Continue reading »

Where to wear your Avalanche Beacon

neige dans face

Where do you wear your avalanche beacon?

For more than a decade, I have not asked myself the question. Where to wear your Avi Beacon? Companies provide a web system especially for strapping it around your torso (shown here). And that’s what I have learned to do, strap it around and never remove it.

But to my great surprise, more and more experts, avalanche technicians and forecasters, guides and everyday backcountry ski bums wear it in their pocket; ‘as long as it’s attached with a sling’, I’ve been told.

Why, or why not.

When you do something for years and never ask if it’s right because that’s all you’ve ever known, it can be a trap. So I asked Dominic Boucher, director of the avalanche center in Quebec’s Haute-Gaspesie, what he thought about both options.

Most of the forecasters where their beacon in their pocket he told me, himself for 8-9 years now.

First reason he told me was comfort, the beacon was in the way with the chest harness, is back pack and his bibs. Then, to wear it under all the layers of cloathing was limitationg in case of a search he told. Have you ever search in real terrain condition he told me. No, I never did thak God. Well, having your jacket open when you search, walk in avalanche debris and shovel is not the greatest idea…

But I was told that an avalanche could undress me and that I should not wear my beacon in my clothes. And never to put it in my jacket in case you remove it.

To that, Dominic answer was to the point, he wears his beacon in his pants, not jacket. And secondly, if you get caught in an avalanche to tear your pants off, good luck not been buried so deep your chances of survival are limited. And he specifically chose his pants to accommodate his beacon. A nice side pocket with a leash, always handy when you need both hands.

Final words…

In everything, changing habits requires a trigger. In safety more than anything, we need to keep sharp and take nothing  for granted. If last year was the chance I took to ask questions about where to wear my beacon, it had been a couple of years that I notice to change, but I didn’t feel the need to question my habits.

Never take for granted that you know what you are talking about. There will always be a better way. Has for me, I will try a new beacon set up this year and see for myself the end result.

 

telemark medical survey

medical survey

Is telemark safe for your knees?

Is telemark more strenuous?

Is telemark more prone to injuries?

We talked about it in this post: trying to awser it the best, but we are missing knowledge. The research I found was from Scotland, limiting the accuracy of the data. We need a truly worldwide research.
Photo-Axis slopestyle 2007 ski knee injury
 

Here’s your chance to contribute to the knowledge

Dr. med. Kai Fehske and Theresa Hardörfer are conducting this research and your input is crucial for the accuracy of the survey.

Here an email I got this week end

Dear Mr Trudel,

my name is Theresa Hardörfer, I`m studying medicine in Würzburg, Germany.
While searching on the internet I found your website.
Last year we started a survey about risks and injuries connected to telemarking. Our aim is to conduct the world`s most comprehensive study about injuries connected to telemarking.
The survey is neither supported by economy nor by the pharmaceutic industry; at the end the results will be accessible to everybody of course.
So far the survey goes on quite well in German speaking areas, but I didn’t have much success in English speaking (and other language speaking) countries.
That’s why I`m writing to you. I want to please you, to help me forward this link to as many telemarkers as possible. Thus I wanted to ask you whether you could post this link on your website or if you have other ideas to reach as many telemarkers as possible.

 

There you go Theresa…
here is the link to the study https://www.soscisurvey.de/ski/?q=ET

I did the survey and it took my a big 6 minutes.

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