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.

 

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

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

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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.

 

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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”]

Telemark South America: All you need to know

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This is the complete guide to choose your ski destination in South America

Today we meet with Serge Berthiaume, A French Canadian living and skiing in South America. I first meet Serge more than ten years ago; ski bumming his way all over North America. I was not surprised when I heard Serge’s plan to ski South America over the summer; it was a bit of a shock when I heard he would go back every year. Saving money, working winters back home just to go back to ski the Southern Winters. After all, most of us were doing the opposite. Serge now lives full time in Chile and skiing is still his main occupation.

Tell us the story behind a Canadian who lives and work in the ski industry in South America

It’s been 10 years since we started our history here in Chile, that was in 2003. When we arrived to Santiago after saving up our money (for a
 whole winter), we understood that what we did was the 
best choice, skiing 30 inch of fresh snow on our first day.

The first days were hard! Trying to figure where the best lines were, the best happy hours, the best restaurants…
well, the best setup for us! Two months after our 
return to Canada we realized that we loved our trip so 
much that we didn’t’ spend a day without talking about it!
 It was done: we were addicted. We had to come back, we never miss a ski season in Chile ever again!

What’s so special about skiing in South America?

943253_10151695118028900_556224209_n Continue reading »

Telemark stance: high or low

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Telemark skiing is a fluid a dynamic movement.

I often related to it as dancing down the mountain. I like the flow and the freedom freeheel telemark gives me. And it’s all about that feeling.

Different styles can be seen and two skiers can easily approach the same terrain differently. One big question remain: Should I go down all the way or should I stay high in my telemark stance ?

Moguls telemark competitionMt Edouard-4

Above: high stance and low stance in moguls.

There’s no easy answer to that. It is generally said that a higher stance limits your efforts and gives you a quicker response should you lose balance. So telemark instructors have preached with a higher stance. Good reasoning. And that what I tend to do that.

But a lower stance also have lots of advantages:

  1. it’s fun;
  2. it lowers your center of gravity, making balance easier;
  3. it enable you to stay in movement for a longer period during your turn. I call this dynamic balance. If your in movement, dancing, you can stay with the rhythm of the song more easily. If, on the contrary, you pause and change rhythm constantly, making short movement, it will be much harder to stay with the music, especially if that music changes it’s rhythm unexpectedly. A lot of this happens while telemark skiing. The slope is not constant, other people around you are not constant, the snow is not constant. Keeping your body in motion is one key to staying balanced and in control. Telemark skiing offers that freedom more than alpine skiing or snowboarding because of the equipment, because of the freeheel. Momentum is an advantage.

Finally, telemark skiing is a lot about feeling. Stay up to save energy, respond quickly and get down in technical, unpredictable terrain.

And get some style for the show…

What’s your approach? Leave us a comment below

Newschool telemark

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Telemark skiing is an art form that peacefully integrates you with your surroundings. You eat granola, drink herbal tea and good craft beer, and bearded men and strong women are the norm. If your backpack has a name and you can’t go skiing without your dog, you’re a telemark skier.

True but there is another side of telemark: Newschool telemark.

These youngsters are all about jumping and grinding in the park. They look the same as the rest of the park rats and spend hours perfecting their spins.  At first it looks like a completely different sport.  They don’t appear to be turning, but seem to be simply jumping around. Don’t be fooled. These young skiers are just as passionate about our sport, and are as dedicated as most of the traditional crowd. Best of all they call themselves telemark skiers.

Check out this link to see what I mean.

Progression has no limits. Be open minded

Mike Douglas, known to many as the godfather of Freesking has raised the bar for skiers. He and other free-spirited skiers have changed the look of skiing by taking what the snowboarders were proving was possible and adapted their styles to skiing. Telemark skiing is already seeing a similar make over.

Continue reading »

Telemark skiing: weight distribution

weight distribution

The telemark stance define the sport. This split squat creates the turn and stabilize the skier.

 A lot of the modern telemark technique and equipment is influence by the alpine ski technique. Balance and weight distribution are no exceptions._X7A5648

How much weight should you put on your back ski?

It use to be really clear: 50% on each skis. At all time. When parabolic skis came on the market, that’s what the alpine world did too. Get both skis to carve is more efficient. For the past few years, alpine has come back to 80% on the outside ski. They say that it reduces the chance of falling on the inside ski. And people are winning world cup with that technique.

What about telemark weight distribution? Continue reading »

Life: Backcountry Telemark

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Telemark creates a community and backcountry is a place where time and space are different. People are different. Hiking for your turns, on a good powder day, you hear it all over.

On a good crew, you’ll hear all sorts of them. We all get incredible feelings from the face shoots, nice flow on long arc turns, a clean line with a few hits. Seeing your friends ski and getting good snow, we all cheer once in a while. Or more.

What is your backcountry cheers.

Are you a loud backcountry lad?

My favorite basic sounds are: Youp youp youp. Whiiiiiiiii. Yeah wouhou yeah wouhou. But you also get full on cheer like a buddy of mine yells stuff like: Awesome, Get some cheese! Solid! MASSIVE! My favorite all time is a friend of mine going:

To all the friends in the backcountry; HIIIIII HAAAAAAAA

You can have some folk signing. From Divas like Celine Dion to Austrian yodeling (special greetings to Pierrot Lortie who can really sign all the Yodeling in the repertoire) to the latest music hits from your favorite ski movie and so on.

Continue reading »

Backcountry Telemark skiing grand opening in Jacques-Cartier National Parc

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It is with great pleasure that we finally saw the Jacques-Cartier National Park in Quebec, Canada, open a 1 sq. km area to backcountry users.RM wood telemark

Mathieu Brunet, Park director, was really please to see the minimum snowpack of 1 meter finally reach Thursday evening. This season was not the most constant with two major rain episode in January and February.

© parc national de la Jacques-Cartier

© parc national de la Jacques-Cartier

After two year in the making, obtaining the environmental approval for this pilot project, , it was finally happening and it produced immediate results, confirming the potential. On the first week end, more than 200 persons went and came back with smiles on their faces.

Having developed the idea and selected the area, I was pleased to hear about that.  Eastern Canada does not have a great deal of backcountry access and the park opening could really be the start of something. Who knows! One thing is for sure, the sport is growing fast and people dream of powder.

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© parc national de la Jacques-Cartier

The backcountry area:

With 300 meters of vertical, an average of 30° slope, there is definitely great terrain. It’s a forested area with birch, spruce and fir, it has a moderate density. The top plateau has a 150 meters vertical at 20-25° slope and has a low density, it is perfect for backcountry beginners (i.e advanced skiers/boarders). For more information, you can call the park at (418) 848-3169

© parc national de la Jacques-Cartier

© parc national de la Jacques-Cartier. Red Arrow point at the backcountry area

The Park is 30-40 minutes from Quebec City and the Welcome center is a few hundred meters away for the base of the area so the access is not a problem. We’ll try to have a short video edit shortly.

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