Notice: I’m sponsored and don’t pay much for the gear I use. BUT I can get pretty much all the gear I want so this is really the gear I wish to have, and I can still tell you my honest opinion. This is my gear choice, that fits my need. Take what you need from it, leave what you don’t.
For all of you telemark tribe gear freaks, here is what I have chosen for this season
My ski gear (skis, boots, bindings, skins, poles)
Crispy Evo WC
These boots as got it all. Powerful, that’s my #1 concern in all my boots. They have plenty of power
They’re obviously not the lightest but the touring mode is very impressive when all buckles are open and they are durable. They are not the easiest to boot fit but if they fit you well from the start, you should have no problem.
Helios 117 and Helios 95
I use the Helios 117mm and 95mm from Black Diamond.
I’ve been using BD skis for over a decade now and this Helios series is in my top 2 most liked ever.
They’re light but they ski big. I didn’t think this could be.
The build quality is unparalleled and I’ve skied the 117mm for a season now with very little wear and tear, so durability is there too.
Simply put, they ski big, feel quick underfoot and are crazy light. Now that’s a triple combo hard to beat.
WARNING: BD does NOT recommend mounting telemark binding on their Helios series. Do it at your own risk.
The Meidjo binding from The M Equipment has been my dream binding for 4 seasons now.
They are light, the touring mode is just phenomenal and they ski really great.
I’ve had a few problems here and there with different parts of the binding over the years but nothing more than my old Black Diamond O1.
And I like the fact that they are always improving the design we are now on version 2.1
The addition of the alpine heelset makes it an absolute backcountry combo
The Outlaw X
The Outlaw X from Twenty Designs is a fantastic binding that is better than Rottefella NTN binding in every way.
The ski better, with less limitation, are as powerful, have an incredibly better touring mode that the NTT Freedom.
Plus, they are super solid.
This is a no brainer
I like to have a fix length aluminum for inbounds or side country. Just lighter and feels better. Choose any GOOD fix length aluminum and had a powder basket.
I also use an adjustable pole for touring and I adjust to different lengths to adapt to the terrain. This can really save energy during the day.
I use BD Boundary poles which will also fit my snow saw for cutting nice snow blocks for my avalanche assessment snow pits.
Climbing skins is not the sexiest subject but it really makes a huge difference.
Trim them perfect, sell your old pair with the old skis and (bis) trim them perfectly.
I use the BD mix Mohair nowadays manly for the great durability of the glue, plus the placability of the Mix mohair.
Even if you don’t recognize his name, you’ve probably seen Weston in a ski magazine, movie, or just ripping by you in the Wasatch. He brings his infectious energy to the hill every day, whether it’s for a shoot or working with the kids of the Park City Tele Tribe.
After seeing some videos of Weston, I have to say that he is one of the best Telemark Skier of his era.
The Main reason why I Changed form 75mm binding to the Meidjo
Note to the readers: In this article, I will try to give you an honest, but subjective point view. I’m not a gear tester and I have not tried all the bindings on the market. In fact, I have not tried that many. This only reflects my personal opinion and should be taken as such. I’ve put a lot of links pointing to other articles and I hope to help you grasp the essence of my reflexion. Why so much talk about bindings, well for one, it’s the link to the ski. It’s the one piece of equipment that define our sport. Oh, and I haven’t changed bindings every 8 years so I think this is a very important decision…
The Meidjo binding is now in version 2.0
If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.
The first version was not perfect, nor is any binding in my mind. There were some problems reported by the early adopters.
Early adopters and myself have experienced these problems with the first version, here are some of the things I’ve experienced, seen or heard:
The binding plate did ice once on me
The heel lifters pins detached and I lost a heel lifter
The pins detached in different part of the binding (heard)
The front low tech bended and eventually broke (seen)
Bindings ripped from the ski (heard)
And more I’m sure
Still I had about 20 days in the backcountry with the bindings. And I loved it. Also, I could do a list of similar problems for all bindings on the market, especially on their first year out.
And version 2.0 seems to have solved all those problems and more.
The advantages of the Meidjo are just killing the other options on the market for me.
It’s a TTS alike binding.
Ever since I heard about The M Equipment prototype of a new TTS alike binding, I got exited about the Meidjo binding. You can also listen to the podcast episode on the binding here and also check out my first review of the binding here.
TTS or Telemark Tech System was already on the market and a great option in my mind already. In this article, you will hear me talk about the TTS family bindings. This refers to the original Olympus Mountain Gear’s TTS idea to have the front of the boot attached to a low-tech front piece. The original TTS seems like a great option, I never got the chance to try them.
It is the first Telemark binding to use this front part of the Alpine Touring (AT) system invented by Dynafit 35 years ago that is still revolutionizing the ski market today.
a Dynafit binding, referred as a low-tech binding or just tech binding
Today, TTS is joined by two other models on the market, the Meidjo and the Moon Light Binding, which really is a clone of the original TTS idea, with some refinements.
Low-tech: I saw all my AT friends just effortlessly climbing up the skin track with there low-tech bindings and light boots and while I was left hustling up the mountain. TTS promised that same efficiency with a simple design.
More than any other reason, the efficiency gained in the touring mode is just ridiculous. And I think Telemark as seen a great lost toward Alpine Touring for that reason only. Non-TTS Telemark is just lost in the dust as a backcountry option.
It skis just as good as what I’m used too.
In the last decade, Telemark became very popular. Well as popular as it ever was. The major improvement came from Telemark boots being stiffer and more than anything else, binding feel became active. From the Rainey Super Loop to the 22 design Hammer Head all the way to NTN, the lack of power on the back ski was a problem of the past.
I skied the same pair of SuperLoop for 7 years. That durability
To many, NTN is simply too restrictive and the feeling is somewhat lost. Although I don’t agree with this, I totally understand what the challenge is. Telemark is all about the freeheel feeling. And that’s one thing I really like about the Black Diamond O1 or O2 series. It feels right, it skis great with enough power and feeling.
The Meidjo has a lot of the NTN advantages but with the 75mm norm feeling. Can’t go wrong with that.
You won’t come back to your old system once you get use to this one.
At first I didn’t think that would be a big thing. I’m so used to getting in and out of my 75mm bindings.
But being a ski patroller and a dad, often times I kept my skis on to do some things that I would have been better without.
Installing a safety net, removing snow under my kid’s boots, shovelling a protecting padding. I even avoided gondola because I didn’t like to get on and off my skis.
In my first impressions of the Meidjo, I didn’t step-in the bindings the way it’s supposed to be done. But after a while it became very easy to get in the low-tech toe piece, so the whole step-in became natural. You do have to harm the system before you can step in, but all in all, it’s a major improvement.
From the start, I was very curious about this new design. I was very confused on how the binding worked. But once I got the binding in my hands, that it got mounted to my skis, that I got to try it for the first time, things changed. The design of the binding is just amazing. The way it operates, the fact that you can adjust the spring tension and the release tension independently. The way the low tech alignment pins guide your boot’s insert, the way the little (flimsy looking but never failed) hook holds your binding in the touring mode all make this binding in a category of it’s own. This binding is innovation.
It’s a release binding. You can’t go wrong with release ability (see cons)
The fact that the Meidjo 2.0 comes with a brake really adds to the versatility of this binding. This option will available soon and so I will put a break on my resort skis. This is the ski I patrol with, this is the skis I carve with, ski bumps, this is my day to day ski. size are 95mm, 105mm and 120mm.
See the Meidjo 2.0 with brakes
Dynafit crampons compatibility also adds to this binding versatility. This brand of crampons is readily available so if you need crampons, or already have that brand, this is a great advantage.
The Ability to Alpine Ski
The Meidjo 2.0 will have the option of adding a heel piece (the rear part of a tech binding, see photo a the top of the page)
The more I think about that, the more I see this becoming a big advantage for the Telemark Tribe.
For one, Telemark will always stay a more challenging sport compare to alpine skiing. Variable conditions, necessary strength and fitness, the technique just had to the challenge. To make a hybrid binding is something that’s been talked about for a long time. I remember the first NTN + heel assembly. It was massive.
This is completely the opposite. The identity of the binding as a hole is maintained. It’s still light, tourable and you have a viable option to alpine ski if needed. (I have yet to try this option and I’m still not a big fan of the alpine turn feeling but I might not be the average Telemark skier)
On The Down Side Now (Yep there’s always cons)
Their is no binding that’s got it all and in the end, looking at both the good and the bad will enable you to make your decision.
If you are in North America, as this post is written (Fall 2015) the binding is not yet readily available. You can wait and see if dedicated shops like TelemarkDown.com or others will get some to sell or if there is going to be a distributor and so on. My guess is that this is about to change in the near future.
A dreamer’s dream coming true.
The company behind The Meidjo
The M Equipment is a small company out of the French Alps. Pierre Mouyade, the founder is still handling almost all of the development, operation, manufacturing, selling, and I guess so much more. You have to admire such dedication for our sport. Not many have succeeded on that path and the example of 22 Design establishing themselves has true leaders are rare.
This comes with some hiccups. The ability for a small company to answer all its client’s need can be a challenge. So far, I think Pierre has done an awesome job last season, solving problems as they came, but some promises like the option of a ski brake got delayed back to this season.
Not so long ago, G3 led the market with its legendary Targa binding. It was (still is) 200$. Then came higher priced bindings with active feeling and free pivots like the O1, the Axl. Lately, the NTN has made the prices grow to meet the alpine touring binding prices. The Meidjo pushes that even further and now join the low-tech bindings price range.
Is the Meidjo worth it’s price?
For some maybe not.
This is somewhat like comparing the prices of the leather boots to the plastic boots. The prices double at the time, and the advantages that came with plastic were a no brainer so the transition was very fast. This is just an example.
Will the Meidjo’s advantages meet with people’s expectations?
That I’m sure.
Once you’re there, price doesn’t matter much.
The Boots and Binding Combo
This is the NTN problem once again. When NTN came around, not only the binding cost a few pennies more, you had to change your boots as well. The Meidjo uses NTN boots that also have low-tech inserts. So far only a few boot models have that option but I think it’s only a matter of time before more and more boot manufacturers put inserts in their NTN boots. Scott has just included inserts in their Voodoo.
Changing boots was a big concern for me. I loved the Black Diamond Custom and the fact that BD has discontinued their Telemark boots was a major push in the back to look for a completely new set up. Having tried the Scarpa TX pro last season, I really love the comfort and touring efficiency but the downhill performance was just not there for me. I really wish that Scarpa would add insert on the TX comp.
Note: This is really my preference. Having a stiff boot is not for everybody and I would recommend you to simply go with what you think is best.
The only really stiff option right now is the Crispy Evo WC. I’m really exited to try these boots out, as they have been a favourite amongst the Telemark world cup racers last season.
The Meidjo brings a release system but it’s not perfect. There is an independent screw that adjusts the release tension and that’s better than the Rottefella NTN. But there is no chart available on where to set the screw. I’ve simply put it in the middle.
False sense of security: A couple years back I tried a super light AT set up. It was a prototype of the Carbon Megawatt with super light low-tech bindings. I usually have no problem skiing with alpine equipment and my confidence level is as high as on my Telemark. But the look of those tiny binding holding such fat planks didn’t seem safe. I was scared for my knees.
In the Alpine Skiing community, a lot of talk is made about the safety of bindings. The truth is that alpine skiers main injuries are knee related due to binding release or non-release at the time of the injury. This is still the main problem whatever the system you use. No wonder the DIN talk is so polarized.
On the Telemark scene, this subject is not as much polarized. Most of the bindings do not have a release system at all. And knee injuries are still lower than for alpine skiers. you can check these websites for more info here and here. More recent data should be available soon and you can participate to survey here
Behaviour, age group are strong factors but the tendency of the binding and boots to absorb some of movement that causes injuries on alpine skis are also contributing.
Should you have a release binding?
In short yes.
No argument! Telemark bindings with release are safer, so why not!
All this to say that the Meidjo could provide a chart to set the best possible tension. Still, the best way to save your knees is your behaviour as a skier and luck. Equipment comes third in my mind.
Can one binding become the new norm and dominate the market? Probably not. I’d like to point out a really great article by Craig Dostie where he talks about most bindings on the market with there specs and some grat info here. (Once you are on the Website, type in Meidjo in the search bar and will have a great number of articles as well)
If it ain’t broken don’t fix it, again
Bindings in the 75mm will continue to be popular for a number of years. Bindings like the Bishop 2.0, the O1, the AXL, the classic Rottefella Cobra to name a few have the legions of addicts that are not ready to change their minds. I was very happy with the O1 from Black Diamond and the 8 reasons pointed above really made the difference.
Rottefella NTN bindings and the new Outlaw NTN from 22 Design are viable options if power is your main concern. The new Outlaw looks to be a great option with a true touring mode. I think it will attract a lot of hype this season.
The original TTS and the clone like MoonLight binding are simple and efficient bindings and both also promises the alpine heel option. In fact, MoonLight already have it for sale. I have not tried any of those options. I have had great comments about both of them, especially the original TTS that have been around for a while. In the end I wish that this TTS family will spread to a point that it will rejuvenate the Telemark industry. Having lighter bindings will lead to lighter boots and we’ll then have a say in backcountry travel like we use too.
In the end, I chose the Meidjo because it brings the best out of every system.
It seems like the perfect compromise, the best upward and downward combo. The step in, the feeling, the brake…
I will even mount my resort skis with them, so it’s not only a backcountry solution.
I really think that the TTS family is the future for our sport.
The Meidjo is the best all in one solution in that category for me.
If you agree with me thus far, you have to be excited for what is to come for our sport.
Is the Meidjo perfect? Time will tell but so far the 2.0 version sure looks close to perfect for me
I have telemarked for 19 years now on 5 bindings. All 75mm classic duckbill bindings. Every time I change, I never looked back. This is now the 6th binding.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Make the most out of your gear. Use it, maintain it.
Change it before it get worn out. Performance is more than a luxury.
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.
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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It’s time to finally get back to what we love best: telemark. You’ve train for three months to be ready for this?
This time of the year, we usually hit the local ski area for a few warm up runs. The snow quality and quantity might not be excellent but, hey, we go anyhow.
here’s my to do list for that big day:
1. A few days before, gather all equipment and inspect it carefully
I know you say: it was all good last year, why check it? First, make sure you find everything back.
A quick inspection will make you feel confident on the first run. Are your boots still comfortable? all buckles good? any mouse ate your Powerstrap (has happened to me!)? Are your bindings well screwed? (just tight them back with a screwdriver, if nothing moves, good, if it does, see your ski tech) Make sure the bindings are still adjusted perfect. Check your skins (clean, glue, straps…) Check that your adjustable poles still adjust (ask my friend Piteur, who came to me for is ski test for a job as ski patrol and could’t get is pole to move. I almost turned him back!) Check your helmet, your goggles, and of course check your skis (base, edges and chips, cracks…)
2. If you got new equipment, make sure everything is well adjusted to you.
Boots are the most important. Liners can be molded, Cuff alignment (canting angle) can be changed, forward lean is also available on certain models. More and more people buy their gear online, make sure you read your boot manual, search the web and ask questions.
Bindings need to be adjusted to your boots. This is much more simpler than on alpine gear. Again read manuals and search the web. Good tension on the cable is key to safety and performance.
If you need to install a binding, I strongly suggest caution on who you trust with this. Telemark bindings have much more stress on each screws than alpine binding (that’s why most brand have increased to 6 the total of screws on their binding). Also, on a lot of alpine gear, the binding are set on rail tracks which don’t require mounting. It seems fewer technicians are good at mounting bindings these days. You can mount bindings yourself, it isn’t so hard. But if the job is not 100% perfect, you might rip the binding from the ski somewhere through this season.
Check everything else, like jacket, underwear, socks, kneepads… Name it, if it’s new, make sure everything is dialed perfect.
3. the Big day, what to expect
Check weather report, check your ski area report, and check avalanche report. If backcountry is not your goal on the first day, make a habit to check avi reports anyway, it will give you an idea of the season’s coming. The start of the season can be crucial for snowpack stability trough out the season, just check the 2012-2012 Utah backcountry review.
4. There it is, your first run.
Make sure you warm up before going down on your skis. I know, it look silly, but I’ve never seen a pro skier not warm up before going down. On your first run, take it easy, and take an easy run for your level. Dial your balance, play around with different turn shape, telemark, alpine, stop on both side and so on. I always like to telemark fakie or backwards from the get go. This is something easy for me and it help me gain confidence. It is normal to feel a bit awkward at first but just enjoy the moment.
Telemark skiing, like any technical sport, is all in our head. And our head don’t remember the movement as good if it hasn’t practice for a few months…
Don’t wait for Christmas to get better. If you’ve train this fall, if you’ve check your gear, if the snow is good, if all is in place, do what is necessary to go towards your season’s goals right now
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
They Love our Lessons
Excellent video! Thank you for putting this together.
enjoy the run,
Very good video!! Helps a lot to improve even if you're an advanced tele-skier!!
Thanks so much for the videos. My telemarking has already improved significantly.
I still get tired legs after a few runs - I assume this is most likely because I am just starting out again and "old" muscle groups are being used again after 5 years.
This video is like one of the fun lectures in college. It makes me actually want to take notes.
I did my first telemarkskiing "test" 4 weeks ago and it took me in right away! This is an exellent tutorial and helps me a great deal.
I just practised this and it made a big difference to my skiing plus my legs weren't nearly as tired.
Coming back after a season ending injury last January (fractured distal tibia) even walking down stairs hasn't felt natural. So getting my rythm back has been difficult, but watching these videos has helped re-set my brain. Thanks Rene!
Thank you! I'm falling in love with telemark for the 3rd time (at least): I'm sure that's the key for a fun, everlasting relation :) I really enjoy the opportunity to work on my tecnique, explore new sensations and why not improve the esthetics of the gesture. In the end, that's why we all ski tele, don't we?
Hi, I'm Rene-Martin
René-Martin Trudel is a telemark instructor, a ski patroller and a mountain enthusiast. His life has been driven by mountain and snow, professionally for the past 15 years. continue reading.
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