Telemark gear talk: gear life extectancy

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In quality products, performance is often the main criteria.

What should you expect from your telemark gear?

If it’s good stuff when we buy it, we are left with one question: how long it’s gonna last?

I try a lot of new gear every year. And have been doing so for more than 10 year now. I get new skis, new boots, new poles, new pack, new everything. But I also have stuff I keep for many season because I like it. I usually keep a quiver ski 2-3 years and use it untill the ski is really dead (I ski 120 days a year). Same for boots and boot liners. I have a pair of old liner I keep, There my slippers. But I can’t argue that new stuff will perform like no other.

In telemark, quality is not a problem since most gear is high end. (compare to alpine gear or snowboard which have all quality grades including low quality)

I think it’s because of the size of the market, there is no room for cheap. Good for us.IMG_0376

 

SKIS:

It is well known that skis have a life expectancy. That it soften with time and will loses its snap. But just how long. This may vary depending on the ski construction, the usage of the ski, the type of skier and so on. One thing is for sure, after 50 days of skiing, the ski as changed and is not the same. But it’s definitely still good. After 200-300 days, It’s usually very dampened, and you want to change it. (you can always keep an old pair for rocky/thin snowpack conditions)

Maintenance: Edge Wear

Keeping your ski edges sharp is generally neglected on the telemark scene. If you ski powder every day, it’s obviously not as important. But even then, sharp edge will make a difference on high traverse, on that couloir that avalanched half way down and that is now frozen hard. For the daily telemark skier, telemark edges is the difference between: “wow, I have great skis, the rip through every thing”, or “I don’t feel confident, these skis s…”

Mark my words, sharp edges are key to 80% of good telemark technique. If you do it bad with sharp edges, you have a chance. If you do it good on round edges, you have no chance.

Make a habit to sharpen your skis every 2-3 days on the mountain. It will not take you long and you will get better at it very fast. You can go crazy with edges sharpness. DON’T. Just take a simple file and work the edges. I tried to find a simple video on the Web but I didn’t. So I’ll made one in the weeks to come.

Base wear:

Wax your skis from time to time. This is a question a moving fast on flats more than downhill performance. There are different kind of wax depending on snow temperature and performance. I use a cheap, general wax. For real cold snow, -20c (-5F) and below or spring/wet snow (above freezing point), it’s a good idea to have an adapted wax.

Ski base are meant to be flat. With time, it will need to be flatten to keep a good glide. This needs to be done at your local ski shop and cost around 30-40$ (stone grind). This is not the most important but can be done once a year.  With a stone grid comes wax and edge tuning which facilitates hand edges tuning since you start with a constant edge surface. Grinding your base flat too often will reduce the life of your skis. (varies with the ski type, just don’t do it every week!)

TELEMARK BOOTS:

Boots wear out. Yes. It takes a while but the plastic definitely soften with time. Especially at the bellows, especially for the aggressive low stance telemarkers. And it affect performance. It’s hard to put a time on its life expectancy but if you haven’t change in a while, you won’t believe the difference it makes in the performance (I’d say 200 days) Liners will pack and your foot won’t have the same drive force to the ski. You can remold boot liners many times. (usually 5-6 times) so don’t be afraid to try it out.

Maintenance: Boots

Telemark boots don’t really need maintenance. Have the liners molded for comfort (you can do it home quite easily). Remove and dry the liners after each use.

TELEMARK BINDINGS:

If there is one thing that doesn’t wear out, it’s the bindings, right? almost.

Even telemark binding wear out. Usually the spring cartridges will loosen in the first few days. I notice stiffer spring cartridges usually loosen more and faster, which, in my opinion, makes them useless. Just buy regular spring cartridges for your bindings. After that, bindings won’t wear much for a lot of days on the mountain. Inspect them carefully before going out on a trip for unusual wear, check the screws torque tension and you should be fine. The end of life of a telemark binding is usually the purchase of a new ski (and you want to sell your old pair with bindings). If not,you can generally mount bindings over again without problems. Some ski techs will change the screws, it’s not a bad idea but not 100% necessary. As mentioned in the post: Gear talk: where to mount your telemark binding, get a knowledgeable technician to mount your binding or, one day, it will probably rip out. Technology improvement is an other good reason to change your binding once every few years.

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Bonus:

I’m not a fan of fashion and of consuming new gear for the sake of it. But their is a difference between planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence. At least the telemark industry creates good product and their planned obsolescence is more durable than other outdoor products.

  1. Make the most out of your gear. Use it, maintain it.
  2. Change it before it get worn out. Performance is more than a luxury.
  3. Considering that a regular telemarker usually ski 20-30 days a year, I consider the stuff we pay for can last between 5 to 10 years.
  4. Technology evolve faster than the life expectancy, you can always sell your old stuff before it is worn out. And you will make a ski bum happy.

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Is telemark safe for your knees?

If I have knee problem,  can I telemark ski ? or is telemark safe for your knees.

I’m not a doctor.

But after 10 years of mountain rescue as a ski patroller in 4 different resorts, I certainly can tell you that telemark skiers are less prone to injuries. Here‘s somewhat of a proof. Ok it’s ski stats from Scotland, but still. It clearly shows telemark is less prone to injuries than any other snowsports. Their is a new research you can participate here

Is it because of the telemark gear or because of the people’s behavior? Again nothing scientific here but I’d say a bit of both…

Questions I’m often asked:

1. I have knees problems, will I be able to telemark?

Real honest answer is that I know more people that have quit alpine skiing and are now telemark skiing because of knee problems that the opposite. Telemark builds muscles around the knee and stabilizes the articulation. Also, when starting telemark, you will be less aggressive (probably) than you where on your skis or board. If you’ve never downhill before, telemark is a great way to approach the mountain at a friendly pace.

2. Are telemark binding safe?

“That’s true, there’s no release…

No binding system on the planet is 100% safe.

On most telemark bindings, there is no release. Old data found here tend to show that it’s safer with a telemark release binding than a non release binding. Although, equipment has continued to change a lot over the years, few brands have developed release bindings. The arrival of NTN bindings, a solid performing binding with release has not created a mass movement toward this product because of the release option. Don’t get me wrong, releasable binding is not bad, but it’s not a must.

The way your foot is attached and the way the binding moves, in most cases, a fall will not cause injury. And believe me, telemark skiers are reputed to fall a lot. If you want extra psychological support and have the release option, there’s a few out there, but other than the NTN, none are really on my list. Again, After years of telemark skiing and being around the community, I feel perfectly safe telemark skiing.

What is the most common injury when you alpine ski: knee ligaments (way up there) and is alpine skiing more prone to injuries, yes. So if you are alpine skiing and are concern about your knees, think about telemark as an option.

Is telemark skiing safe for your knees: definitely. Can accidents happen? Obviously every day, every where.

Go on and try it, telemark skiing is pure pleasure

Comfy telemark: Helmet, knee pads, socks and butt

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I’m a ski pratroller.

But even before hand, I’m a telemark skier who likes to ski hard. Day in and day out, I’m outdoor. And I like it. Here’s a list of things I wear to stay warm at all times.

Common tips are:

  • Make sure you don’t over dress to start your day,
  • don’t wear cotton,
  • use multilayer clothing system.

You can find dozen of web sites talking about those. Here are my best tips for keeping you warm:

  1. KNEE PADS: Safety is a concern. So I wear knee pads. I would not trade them for any reason now. When I started telemark skiing 17 years ago, I had leather boots and no cable on my bindings. The knee could easily touch the ground. Today’s equipment are much more rigid. To a point that it’s almost impossible for my knee to touch my ski. Still, I feel that my back leg knee is more expose and I still wear my knee pads. Working on the mountain, I still wear knee pads. It’s just so conformable. If your a snowboarder or an alpine skier, you should all be wearing be wearing knee pads. It keeps my knees warm. No joke. And it makes a world of difference.
  2. HELMET: An other smart choice for your safety, of course. But more than that, it’s just so comfortable if chosen right. Bring your goggles to the ski shop and try a bunch. Make sure it’s comfy on the head and for the ears, that it stays in place and that your goggles fit perfect, not leaving any gap around. Helmet is warm but not hot, It’s wind proof but most have vents, and most helmets now do not impair your hearing. Just a no-brainer.
  3. SOCKS: Feet are your link to your skis. Have good ski socks makes a good difference in comfort and in warm feet. Be careful, price doesn’t equal quality. My only choice is Patagonia mid weight ski socks. They are so durable and are unmatched in comfort. And I tried a lot of different models out there. I always have a second pair with me and change them at lunch because I have sweaty feet.
  4. BUTT: Well, if your in cold country, that is Canada for me, sitting on a chair lift is cold. I wear mid weight long johns under my ski pants. In the resort, I don’t wear Gore-Tex pants but rather light insulated ski pants. I add a fleece short for extra warmth. I usually buy a fleece pants that I cut just below the knees.
  5. GLOVES: Of all ski equipment, the glove is the one I like the most. Don’t ask me why, I just like it. For many years now, I always choose Black Diamond Guide gloves because of its warmth vs dexterity. A bonus is that their very durable, a must for a ski patroller ( I change every 2 years and I ski/work an average of 120 days a year). Whatever your preferences, gloves or mittens, make sure you get what you need to stay out. If they are leather, have them treated with a good specialized wax such as Nikwax or similar products. It will make them last longer.

BONUS TIP: If you have cold feet, you can always buy heated soles or foot warmer, but I don’t like either solutions. Heated soles are expansive and you always forget to charge them up. And foot warmer are single use (pollution), bulky and expensive after a while. But boot liners are relatively cheap. Every boots brand sell replacement liners, usually at 1/5th of the price of a boot. Buy an extra liner and change liners when changing your socks at lunch time. Guaranteed warm feet for the rest of your life. When re-selling your boots, you can have the buyer choosing his liner, it will be half as used. Keep the second liner for your new boots.

Enjoy winter, day in and day out.

 

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