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.

 

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.

 

Telemark is Dead: Response to Powder Skier Magazine

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I’ve heard it hundreds of times.

Telemark is dead, or Is telemark dead?

Well, I would agree to some degree.
Yes, it’s on a low.

It was popular around 10-15 years ago. You have to say popular with a sense of proportion. It’s always been marginal. There are no benefits. There never was.
I can’t buy new equipment around here. I live in Quebec City, an 800 000 inhabitants Nordic City in the province that counts the most ski resorts in all North America.

We love skiing in Quebec for sure.
Not telemark.

First, you should go read the article by Hans Ludwig. His arguments are really a Telemark vs alpine skiing trend confrontation.

So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll give you my perspective on that confrontation.

Gear:

SKI:

This is an interesting area. I would agree that alpine gear as taken a strong turn around 2010, fat skis, light and powerful boots with incredible walk mode have really changed the game. The shift happened, the mass started to go out in the backcountry and most of them were not fit to carry the big alpine gear.

Dynafit already had the lowtech binding but it was not really popular with anybody but ski guides or people earning there turns more than riding a chair lift.

Yes technology killed the attraction for telemark as a BC tool.

TELEMARK:

What funny is that it’s exactly how telemark became popular in the 90s, gear. Plastic boots arrived on the scene and the sport changed forever. That’s faded away now.

As for the point that no major improvements have been made in recent years, I disagree. The bindings have seen major improvements with NTN and TTS alike bindings. The change is BIG. the passion is strong with a lot of small companies, but you have to agree that gear has evolved with the very limited money invested by the big companies. TTS, Bishop and 22 Design, Voile in the US have all released new bindings since 2010. The M Equipment and their Meidjo have been the most creative in my mind. All these companies are still doing business. They have very creative ideas that will become the telemark experience of tomorrow and just like the debate about leather vs plastic boot we had 20 years ago, there will always be a before and after NTN telemark scene.

The missing piece are the boots. We are still with the same design we had 15 years ago. And that’s the most expensive to R&D. It’s the only thing that could kill the sport. If the numbers would get too low, the companies stop making them. Never mind innovate.

Culture

SKI:

But BC was  so marginal, it was for the purist.

Now the masses do both, inbound and outbound. They want a new experience. The resorts are all the same, groomed, pack with lift lines, pricy…

It’s the whole ski industry that’s going down. The numbers are not disastrous but it’s not a booming industry like it was. A lot of people think that snowboarding and parabolic have saved the industry. Now, the lowtech binding is the new buzz. Look at all the big companies, jumping in that direction. We are seeing the small family owned resorts closing and the giant corporations making risky moves with huge investments. Will the industry survive the transformation as a whole? I think it’s fair to ask. Maybe Chinese will save the gear industry. It’s getting very popular over there I hear. But will they come ski in our resorts. Will it be enough to support the whole industry?

TELEMARK is different.

It’s a crow of passionate people. We ski about 3 times more days than any other snowsport. There is no mass. You don’t receive telemark gear for Christmas and try it for 3 days in the holidays. This is what alpine skiing numbers are. Loads of less than 5 days a season skiers. They are the moving force. Will they stay.

And we don’t do it because it’s cool, trendy or eccentric. If you telemark, you know it’s all about the turn. PERIOD. There are no other arguments in favour of the telemark turn. Alpine is just better in every way. And it was in the mid 2000 as well. Gear doesn’t matter. So it will never pass a 5-10% market share we had a decade ago.

Telemark skiers are the most passionate. This is a major plus. I can alpine any run I can telemark. For me it’s just playing the video game with a cheat code. The fun is altered. I would change to split boarding before going to alpine skiing for sure.

We will not make the industry survive or fail. But the skier will.

Future:

SKI:

Who knows? Will the prices keep rising? Will climate change make snowmaking financially viable? Will the new generations keep coming to the super resorts? After all snowboard have hit a plateau too. The Snowsport Industry is asking these same questions right now.

TELEMARK:

There is a lot more telemark skiers than a mere 10 000. This web site alone has 30 000 visitors a month. I have a YouTube video with 200 000 views. That doesn’t look dead to me.
Yes, Vermonters will keep it alive. Eastcoast terrain is perfect for telemark for sure. I hear that the alps have very dynamic festivals, race, communities especially in France, Italy and Austria.

In fact, telemark is really great at gathering people with a different mind set.
Small pockets everywhere.

  • Remember your HAHA moment, how you felt for the first time the telemark turn
  • Remember the gear you use to ski with. And it worked. It’s not about the gear
  • I have never tried to convince people around me to tele. But each year I see newcomers attracted by the smooth, flowy turns.

Conclusion

On the personal, small-scale side, it’s obvious. Telemark will never die. It’s the best feeling. It’s hard, it’s physically and technically harder. But the rewards are making me come for more.

On the global economic scale, it’s harder now. The wheel is turning slower. I don’t think Chris, Pierre or Dave will make the Fortune top 1 000 000 richest people by selling bindings. But if it’s sustainable, we have dedicated companies still pushing the technology.

For those two reasons, I declare that Telemark is alive :)

I should do an interview with 4 ex-skier that have changed to telemark and ask them what they think about the ski industry

Leave your comments below.

 

THIS SEASON: SKI WITH RENE-MARTIN

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Hello telemark tribe.

For this season, I have set myself some goals.

I do this every season.

This season, I want to experience the community like never before.

You have been so awesome supporting this website and I now feel that it has grown into something bigger.

During the winter, I get 20 or 30 emails a week specifically thanking me on how my teaching has changed your telemark technique. Most often, people will talk about how one of the 7 flaws has solved a lot of little bad habits.

This is great but this season, I want to experience something new.

I want to invite you to ski with me in Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

This is a mountain in Western Canada, and I have never been. I’ve heard a lot of great things from Cristina Gareau and Stephane Riendeau, two past guests on the Telemark Tips Podcast.

And so here we are.

Ski with Rene-Martin in Revelstoke

This is made possible by Gendron Travel, Quebec’s biggest ski travel agency.

I’ve partnered with them to organize one week of Telemark skiing in Revelstoke.

 

WHO IS IT FOR:

  • Strong intermediate and above, you have to be comfortable going down in a strong telemark turn and have experience skiing in powder. This destination is not for beginners. Much of the territory is composed of glades and alpine terrain. Expect moguls, powder and long runs.
  • 19 years old and older

WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT:

  • This is not a private or group lesson.
  • This a guided trip with teaching so that you can improve your telemark technics significantly. I will film you, teach you, give you tips, exercises to do BUT, in the end, expect more skiing and less than two hours of teaching a day.
  • Expect resort inbound skiing. No backcountry with the group, but you can always choose to leave the group and ski by yourself.
  • I’m not a travel agency, that’s why I’ve partnered with Gendron Travel. In the end, they will be responsible for putting together your trip, booking your insurance, taking care of cancellation if the need arises… Make sure you address all questions to them regarding these topics. Gendron Travel can also book your flight and offer advice.
  • I will take up to 11 telemark skiers.
  • The price does not include flight, equipment, meals and alcohol. It will include lodging, transportation, ski tickets and my services.
  • The Sutton Place is a 4-star hotel. So, Tele-ski bums are welcomed but will have to shower.

Want to join?

Easy.

All is explained on this page.

Price, what’s include, visit http://ski.voyagesgendron.com/en/2017/09/28/13768/

If it’s meant to happen…

This is my goal

Have a great season.

Rene

 

Repost: Training for the season

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Hey Guys,

This is the time of the season where you need to think about what will make the difference.

 

Telemark Training For The Season

 

This  is a blog post from last season and it’s still extra valid

Make sure you get the training you need, meaning, don’t just copy, make it your own and DO IT.

Avoid injuries, make the most of your season from day one, get to the next level, WHATEVER your age or health.

If you train right, it will make a difference.

 

 

019- JT Robinson From Big Mountain Telemark to Big Spring

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This episode features JT Robinson.

He is a world class telemark skier that have competed in the Big Mountain Telemark tour, created a movie production company, and has helped TelemarkSkier.com become the reference it is today. By the way this episode was only suposed to air in 10 days but, since Telemark Skier is Launching There New Website, might as well share this with you today.

With Telemark, you have to do it your way…

From his awesome Sick Bird awards through out his pro days to the ways he has created his own mark in the history of telemark in the last decade in the US, JT always seems to be around the big scene and creating his own destiny. This is one fascinating telemark skier. And so inspiring too


Show Notes:

JTRobinson.Com

VI Group

Though Guy Production and the interview with Stephane «Frenchy» Riendeau

Unparallel II and Josh Murphy

TelemarkSkier.Com  (Check out there new website)

The Telemark Skier that JT looks up to the MOST: Josh Madsen

And more riders to look after: Bennett Drummond (youngster); Erik Anderson (guide); Jake Sakson (king of the Hill :)

 

 

You know you’re in the big league if you can throw down like JT.



The Moonlight

What Big Mountain Comp looks like. I think the guy in blue doing a front flip/off axis at the start is JT

And what last year looked like in 2014

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Telemark Training For The Season

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Get ready to get down!

Train for your telemark season.

The season is about to start and it is the perfect time to get motivated to train and be in the best shape before the season.

The goal here is simply to share  my training on a 5 day a week program.

I do the same things over for one month and it’s worked pretty good for me.

Remember to train according to your capacities. I’m not a trainer and if you are not sure if these exercices are good for you or not, please ask your physician. This is just me sharing my method that is working for me.

Have a great season!

Here it is






 

The 40th Nato Telemark Festival

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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.

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

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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

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