My Quest for the Best All Mountain Telemark Ski

A few years ago, I was in my mid thirties and was ripping the mountain.

I remember that I could ski quick turns in tight trees, jump off (small) cliffs, rip throught moguls…


But in the last 4-5 years, I’ve considerably slowed down. I don’t get the same feeling, the same ripping feeling.

I’ve done a series about the telemark ski evolution and it made me realized that telemark is a feeling and what ever the era of equipement, it remains FUN

But this latest generation of ALL MOUNTAIN SKIS just doesn’t seem to work for me.

Or did I just get older?

Are alpine skiers just getting better and I can’t keep up anymore?

Is it me or the equipment?

This descent in my confidence to ski all terrain, rip and turn heads started when I tried the Black Diamond Helio 95mm in 2018. I choose a smaller size at 173cm instead of the 178cm I’m usually going for.

I have a friend who had the Helio 105 in a shorter lenght and he liked it a lot, praising the small size to manoeuvre in tight trees.

Well the Helio 95mm in a short size didn’t work. At all.

For general information on ski selectrion I have wrote a blog on the subject here.

This blog will only be covering problems for resort oriented all around, all mountain ski in this blog.

Fat skis used for powder do not suffer from those issues.

These are my evolving thoughts as of March 2022.


This is the story of my quest to find the best All Mountain Telemark ski.

Note: I have a prodeal with Black Diamond Equipment like most industry professional. I can have prodeals with most ski manufacturers but I’ve been skiing BD for 14 years because they serve me well. I still pay for most of my skis.

This is my story, my skis, the thoughts shared here are mine and reflects my experience:

Skier: Rene-Martin
Year telemark skiing: 26 

Weight: 200 pounds
Height: 6.1 ft
Days on snow: 100 days a year (around 60 resort skiing, 40 backcountry)

In the resort I ski Le MASSIF:
800m vertical drop Eastern Canada snow of average 6m of snowfall
I would say this is about  30% on hardpack groomed runs
40% of somewhat chopped snow/moguls/tree skiing
15% powder. Always in tree skiing where manoeuvrability is key
15% pur ice that gets your knees to hurt

My Experience with ski brands and testing.

First, I’ve been telemark skiing for a 25+ years.

I’ve tried hundreds of skis over the years.

Some years, around 2004-2006,when telemark was at it’s peak of popularity, I would even go at test events to review telemark skis for specialized magasine.

Nowadays, telemark demos are hard to find.

But I work as a ski patroller at Le Massif where about 20 of us are on telemark.

So even in recent years, I’ve tried a lot of different setup.

Atomic, Volk, Rossignol, Nordica, Blizzard, Salomon, Moment, Dynastar, Armada, Xalibu at almost all Black Diamond skis in the last 14 years…

Even with all this testing, I don’t consider myself a great tester. It takes me some time to identify what works in a ski or a binding.

With years, I’ve become better and better at identifying what works and what doesn’t.


All Alpine skiers are going faster today, it’s easier than ever to ski powder, to carve. We can see that alpine skiers have really gained from modern ski shapes.
I want a great all mountain ski that performs well in bumps, trees, and somewhat carve on hardpack. Powder is a bonus.

I’ve been looking for a ski that works for telemark in the 85-95mm range. That’s the width of the ski under foot.

Most skis under 90mm are just too stiff and mainly aimed at carving. The industry calls them all mountain skis or front side skis, but really it’s meant to ski 75% on groomers and occasional powder, chopped powder. No moguls, no eastern tree skiing where there’s always bumps, powder or chopper powder

Most 90 to 95mm skis are oriented for light touring. Those skis like the BD Helio 95mm not only have gone stiffer and stiffer but this combined with the lightess makes the skis very unstable for the variaty of snow a resort have. It’s just not damp enought.

There are skis that works but in general, for me at least, I have not found a perfect all mountain telemark skis for a LONG time.

And it made me think, what is the greatest all around telemark ski I’ve ever tried?

Tua Excalibur?
K2 World Piste?
Rossignol Big Bang?
These skis where great but are from another era. Boots where smaller and softer, binding where neutral or barely active.
No one can argue that todays telemark equipment has brought performance to another level.
NTN for sure but also AXL binding have changed the game
Those skis mentioned above worked really good. But the mid 90’s early 2000 skis are not the best skis I’ve own.
I remeber that before active binding, skis wider than 90mm were hard to manage.
So what is my favorite all mountain telemark ski in a recent era?
It’s got to be between the BD Aspect 2010-2011 and the BD Warrant 2012-2013.
I really loved these skis and still regret selling them. (I’ll buy them back Jeff)
Black Diamond Aspect 2011 - @skipass.comWarrant
These skis have nothing special really. The shapes are pretty classic. No crazy numbers. No rocker, no tapered tip…
But nobody is making a ski that looks like that!

In 2021-2022, I have:

  • a slalom ski at 65mm (165cm long) mounted on NTN freeride
  • a GS ski at 63mm, 170cm on freeride
  • a BD Impulse 98mm, 180cm on a Meidjo 3 with alpine heelset
  • A BD Helio at 115mm, 186cm on a meidjo 3 with alpine heelset (I use it only to guide in BC)
The race skis, slalom and GS are specialty skis and only use them on groomers. (I can get by on moguls with the slalom but it’s not the best)
The 115mm Helio is backcountry use exclusively. And whatever the conditions, I pretty much always go with this one. This ski is AWESOME and I’ve been skiing it since 2017. The trend is 105mm skis which I really don’t like. They’re too wide to be nimble and too narrow to float.
Obviously the Helio 115 are awesome for backcountry skiing but they are just too big for resort skiing.
These 3 skis are specialized skis and are no brainer. They do what they are supposed to do, carve or ski powder. But I can’t really patrol the whole mountain on them
telemark ski Quiver 2022
So this year, for the all mountain ski, I tried the Impulse 98.
I wanted to go back to a damp ski, with some weight. (4kg)
It’s got a nice radius at 18m in the 180cm. So it should be okay on groomers.
98mm is a bit wider than I’d like but It’s not so much wider than the Warrant that I liked so much back in the days.
But still again, this year, I am not ripping like I use to. The Impulse delivers in a lot of snow condition, but it’s slow to turn moguls and a bit too wide to really carve on groomers without hurting my knees.
Maybe it’s too heavy?
And I’m still not ripping like I use too.
And this tought still comes back.
Is it me getting older?
Can I still ski 800 vertical meters, charging in moguls?
Because of this lack of feeling in the bumps, I’ve spent a great amount of time practicing my carving in the last two seasons.
I really like carving. It’s a great challenge.
The carving skis I have are so fun and it makes the technique so much easier than any all mountain ski can.
Carving skis are meant to carve.
But this is not what I like the most about telemark.
And all the days that I’m patrolling, I need to be able to ski all conditions and all terrain. 50% of the runs are moguls or tree skiing.
Let me tell you that a carving ski is the worst in anything but hard pack groomed runs
This season, especially, I was quite desperate to find a great all around telemark ski.

Here are the PROBLEMS with modern MID FAT skis

1. Shallow Rise Tip

Problem: the spatulla doesn’t rise enough. Note: Fat skis used for powder do not suffer from this issue.

In 2018, I thought that the small size combined with the tip rocker of the Helio 95 was the problem.

The tip rocker problem was easily identified. The tip only lifted a few cm of the ground and the telemark squat would frequently make the tip dive in a bump.


I could make it work but I needed to keep my telemark lead change VERY small. Like less than a boot long. And I needed to be very active to get the skis to manoeuvre around moguls. It was a nightmare.

So I sold the ski to a smaller skier and thought that was that. Well over the years, I’ve realized that there is actually 4 shape changes that have impered our ability to telemark on modern all-mountain shape.

My Quest was only starting.


2. Stiffer Tip

Problem: stiff tip combined with a shallow rised tip makes the tip catch in bumpsNote: Fat skis used for powder do not suffer from this issue.

The next year, I went for a narrower ski, the Black Diamond Route 88. I picked them the right lenght at 178cm.

I moved away from carbon as I realized that it was too light for resort skiing and also that it was just too stiff.

This solved the tip diving problem, ouf!

But even if the ski was ok in moguls, ok on groomers, ok in powder, I still wasn’t ripping like before. For the story, the last ski that BD made that worked for my was the Aspect that was produce in 2014-15. After that the Link, the Helio, the Route all had the same problem.

Stiffer and stiffer tip mixed with a shallow rise tip really kills the energy tranfered to the back ski in a telemark turn.



Telemark carving

See how low the tip is barely off the ground.


You have to think of the back ski as a second point of balance. When turning, we are puitting our skis on edge. On the front ski, our weight is distributed on the whole edge of the ski. It’s centered.

On the back ski, using any modern active binding, our energy is more transfered half way between the center and the tip. We can even see my back ski lifted of the snow in this image.

Screen Shot 2022-03-30 at 7.54.51 AM

Now if the spatula doesn’t rise a lot or if it’s too stiff, it will catch a lot more into things.

But there is more!

3. Rockered Tip

Problem: the ski has no energy to give back to the skier. Note: Fat skis used for powder do not suffer from this issue.

Again, telemark skiing, we transfer  half way between the center and the tip of the back ski by the boot-binding combo. If it’s too rockered, the energy is lost in the ski shape. Tradional shaped skis have camber to give energy to the ski. When pushed, it wants to come back into it’s original shape. With a tapered tip, we are pushing the ski into it’s designed shape, just making it rounder, and the ski is not going to give any energy back.

rocker ski image

4. Tapered Tip

Problem, the shape of the tip changes the radius of the turn on the back ski. Note: Fat skis used for powder do not suffer from those issues.

The final factor is the tapered tip. This is when the max wigth of the ski is not at the top of the spatula. On hard pack snow, this changes the way the arch of the edge conduct the ski. It’s like if your back ski had a big belly.

Basically, they move the widest part of the ski toward the center. This has many advantages. It reduces mass at the tip, thus reducing swing weight, it creates a shorter turn radius without a super large tip that becomes bulky and clumky. But for our back ski while telemarking, it reduces grip and edge control. A bit of tapered tip is not a problem, but laterly, ski company have increased it on some models to become a problem.

ski tip tapered


And these 4 problems  are not exclusive to Black Diamond. In the last 5 years, almost all brands are going in this direction

There is worst.

This is not working for telemark inbound as an all around ski. If you are like me and ski moguls, tress, powder, groomers, ice, this shallow tip rise and stiff tip is just deadly, rocker and tapered tip definetly doesn’t help. I found that this is NOT a problem for fat skis aimed at powder.

But why are the manufacturers going for those kind of shapes then?

You have to understand it works of the alpine turn. It works really good.

It took me a while to understand that.


Watch the video above. This is me trying the Bishop Gonzo.
I had try this ski in it’s first version. I haven’t ask, but I think this is version 2 or 3.
I remembered it being a good ski. But at the time, I was focus on the binding and it was a really great snow year. So I ended up skiing the 100mm Chedi a lot.
With the bishop, I can ski the bumps like I want to. I can charge.
I can turn heads again.
I know this is kinda cheezy, but this is such a great feeling.
And I love the feeling of charging in moguls.
And it can turn quickly in a tree run.
And it’s ok the carve.
Oh and it went way better than I thought in powder. I’d say it was better in powder than on the groomer.
The tip still exited on top of the snow at every turn. This is a definite suprise has I don’t remember this from version 1.
This is the best telemark all mountain ski I’ve tried in a few years for sure.
Hope this helps
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My Passion for Carving on my telemark

Telemark carving

One of the most difficult techniques to master is

Carving on Telemark Skis.

Compared to moguls or steep skiing, I feel that carving is a more complex technique to master.

And in the last 4-5 seasons, I really focus on improving my carving.

I’ve been carving for 20 years but the ability to carve on any surface and slope is definitely still a challenge. I would say that my first passion as always been powder tree skiing. Then, I spent a lot of time in moguls,it is only in later years that carving has become a real passion.

I’m lucky enough to have probably the best technician in Canada, Denis Vezina, teaching at my home resort. He represents Canada at Interski. His telemark technique is flawless, and he has the ability to dissect my skiing better than anybody. His knowledge has allowed me to improve significantly my technique.

Here are the things I think I’ve changed or improved over the last five years. Note that these are tips are what made a difference for me. It’s areas I focussed and that has given me results.

If you want more general tips on how to carve, check this post here.

Telemark Carving Skis

OK first I got real carving skis. One GS and one Slalom ski that I mounted on NTN Freerides. This is a game changer for sure, especially my  Salomon slalom with 13 m of radius.

Here are my quiver for 2022.

From left to right:

Black Diamond Helio 115 (2020-21) with Meidjo 3 and alpine heelset. Powder skis used almost exclusively in the backcountry

Black Diamond Impulse 98 (2021-22) with Meidjo 3 and Alpine heelset. All Mountain skis that I mainly use for resort skiing, ski patrolling, slack country.

Dynastar Speed Course Comp 64 GS skis (2007) with Rotofella NTN Freeride (with switch plate)

Salomon X-RACE 65 (2013-2014) with Rotofella NTN Freeride (with switch plate). This is the ski I use the most to focus on my carving.

telemark ski 2022



Those two skis although older are SO much better on groomed snow than any skis I’ve ever tried. Really, it’s cheating compared to a 90mm modern ski.

Both hold an edge like crazy and speed is not a problem.

I use the Salomon the most. I love the short radius feeling. But I will spend a lot of time of the Dynastar GS ski in this season to try to master this beast of speed. It’s crazy how you need some serious courage to really push a GS ski.

I have them mounted on the NTN Freedom which are Okay but I’d love a more progressive binding such as the Bishop BMF 3 or even a Meidjo 3 with its incredible lateral stiffness.


Outside Ski

Telemark skiing in all conditions, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to stay balanced in variable conditions such as moguls, powder and I was a big proponent of having your body weight distributed evenly 50% – 50%. I still think that this ability is great in a lot of situations but for carving I’ve definitely moved away from that to focus on 70% on the front ski which in terms of technique is described as being the outside ski to the centre of the turn.

There are many reasons why this is helping, but the main reason is definitely edge pressure. The other one is the way you can increase your angulation.

70% is just a mental reference, and I have never measured the actual percentages. And there is a limit to how much pressure you can put on your outside ski to keep your telemark stance efficient and balanced. Finally, I would say that the weight distribution varies during the turn and depending on turn shapes, so I could say a lot more on the subject.

Rotating the femur

This was a new concept for me

I am very good to angulate from the knees and I love to use my back knee to create a good edge angle. But this tip uses the biggest articulation in the body and for this reason is super strong to oppose the forces of carving.

At the start, when I feel that I’m strongly edging, I will focus on rotation my femur on my outside leg (front leg). This will help a lot to create opposing force to the turn and to start turning. I’m still exploring this feeling so more to come in the future.

This can only work if you have a good weight distribution, meaning that you need 70% on your outside (front ski). So here is another reason why overloading the outside ski is great.

Early Edging

Focus on horizontal extension at the start of the turn to get the new lead change edging as fast as possible.

I did understand the advantages of horizontal extension, but I now understand the advantages of an earlier extension to gain earlier edging.

I focus on the moment of release at the end of a turn. This needs to be a combination of letting the skis go under you into the new turn a bit passively and to put pressure immediately on the new outside ski (this will become your front leg). This weight shift is the key to get the early edging and this allows the skis to bend into the carving arch sooner, creating a nice constant turn.

So really the goal is to preload the ski to arch sooner so that when the pressure builds up in the turn, the ski is already in the right shape to push against the snow. I would say that this is the key to start carving in steeper terrain and at higher speeds.

FYI, this early edging is right before the femur rotation I talked about above.


Focus on breathing out at the end of a turn.

This tip has helped me tremendously and it was the first tip that Denis gave me that I was like: Okay, this guy really knows his stuff.

Telemark is a lot about coordination. To breathe out at the end of the turn as many advantages. First and foremost, it helps synchronize the most important part of the turn, the lead change. I feel that by exhaling at the end of the turn, it gives me a timing and rhythm to consistently start the sequence of the turn.

Second aspect might be psychological, but it works for me. Actually, it works really well. I feel that by breathing out, I have more room to angulate at the end of the turn. Try it, it’s fascinating. It’s like if my body is freer and it gives me a last little movement to really help close the turn.

Closing the turn means that you slow yourself by completing the circle of the turn a bit more like if you were going more uphill. (This is just a figure of speech as most often we don’t literally go uphill.)

I like to play with the breathing out speed, exhaling slow on long radius turns and exhaling super fast in short radius turn.

Different angulations

Breathing leads me to talk about different types of angulations.

Explain briefly, angulation puts your mass over your edges by moving your upper body in a C-shape. You can angulate from the knees, from the hips and the spine.

For this article, I want to focus on hips vs spine. I never understood that there was a difference between the spine and the hips moving to counterbalance the forces of the turn.

This year Denis was focusing a lot on my hips moving at the start of the turn. He then told another participant in our clinic to stop using the notion of squashing an orange into your rib cage. This is what I will call spine angulation.

This is a tip given by Mike And Allen famous Telemark Tips book.

I was surprised by Denis comment and we didn’t get the chance to talk about why he gave that telemark skier that tip.

But it struck me that this was actually two separate movements.

So I started to experiment. At slow speeds, moving only the hips is definitely not working as it’s just too big of a body part. On the opposite moving only the rib cage into the hip bone (Spine angulation), squashing an orange is not strong enough at higher speed and is a more complicated movement for steeps than simply moving the hips.

So here is where I stand and that I’m experimenting with. I now start the turn focusing on moving my hips, like if I was sitting inside the turn. This movement focusses on keeping my upper body straight and to angulate more as the turn progress. This is what I call hip angulation. It typically happens between the start of the turn and a bit pass the fall line at the middle of the turn.

At one point I will be limited on how much I can angulate from the hips, and depending if the turn needs more angulation, I will then start to arch my spine, moving my chin over my outside ski. This will get my spine to arch more and more and to cork my upper body over my edges. This is where the tip to breathe out actually helps create even more of this spine angulation.

Sharp Edges vs Race Sharp Edges

I’ve always known that sharp edges are important but this next tip is the real cheat code.

Getting new skis every year, I know that sharp edges are a game changer. Over the years, I’ve gone from sharpening my own skis carefully, to sharpening then very crudely, to not sharpening them at all.

You have to understand that as a ski patroller the chances of hitting a rock during a day are very high. So the dedication to keep edges sharp are mostly a waste of time.

Having dedicated carve skis have changed that.

The Cheat code I’m going to share now is definitely not for everyone.

Read this carefully, you need to be very confident and skilled to do this safely. But Oh my God, what a change.

I started to have my skis sharpen at an aggressive angle like ski racers.

ski edge angle

Ski manufacturers typically have angles that will enable the average skier to perform on any terrain. Those angles are the base angle of 1 degree and the side wall angle of -1 degree. Technicians usually refer to this side wall angle saying 89 degrees.

I went from a side wall of 89 deg to an angle of 88. This per se will not make major improvements.

I went from a base angle of 1 deg to an angle of 0.5 deg.

This combination is the cheat code. Edging as become SO easy. The difference is CRAZY. Really.

But it comes at a price. Your ability the slip in and out of your carve is drastically reduced, meaning that your skis will want to edge and to stay on edge. To reduce that, you can unsharpen the edge at the tip and tail, but in my mind, it defies the reason why you got them to sharpened this way.

Racers will even go to even crazier angles such as 87 and 0 degrees, which I am not ready to try. This is how they succeed in staying on their feet when completely off balance on crazy steep icy slopes. Because you can clearly see the off balance is supposed to make them fall.

AAAAAH Now I know how they do it.

Here is a progression I would suggest trying as you improve your skiing.

All levels of telemark skiers who want to carve: Keep your edges super sharp, sharpening them every couple of days on the slope. If you can, use a diamond stone after every day on the mountain.

STEP 1: You want to start to learn to carve on green runs, keeping both skis arching and leaving two tracks behind you – » keep your edges at 89 and 1 deg which is the manufacturers recommended angles, unsharpen the tip and tail about 10 cm.

STEP 2: You want to start carving on blue runs, keeping your skis arching and leaving track behind you in good grooming condition. – » Keep your edges at 89 and 1 deg but do not unsharpen the tip and tail.

STEP 3: You want to start carving on green  and blue runs in hard-packed conditions (not icy yet) -» increase your edge angle to 88 and 1 deg (or 88 and 0.7 deg if your ski tech can do that) do not unsharpen the tip and tail.

STEP 4: You want to start carving aggressively on blue and maybe black runs -» increase the edge angle to 88 and 0.5 deg. do not unsharpen the tip and tail.

STEP 5: you want to race and carve aggressively no matter what – » well I’m not there yet and I would use caution here advising you on something I’m not familiar with. Maybe it can come back in the future and keep you updated.

I would suggest you take these steps very slowly, maybe trying one setting for at least one season.

Also, changing edge angle will remove a lot of metal on your ski edges, using them prematurely, so make sure you don’t go back and forth too many times.

Did you like this kind of format of blog?

I understand that this is not going to help as many telemark skiers than other lessons I’ve given. I give you my perspective, what I’m working on and what I have improved lately.

Leave a comment if you have any question or to share your perspective on carving on telemark.