I have tried and tested dozens of skis with the years.
I’ve been sponsored by Black Diamond the past 13 years, but I’ve still tried a lot of other brands.
In this article I want to talk about what you should look for/ avoid in your quest for the right telemark ski, whatever the brand.
In the last 5 years, more and more skis have early rise tips like shown. These tips can be great on big powder skis but don’t translate well to piste, all around skis.
I think the design is popular on alpine setup because it reduces ski vibration that they call chatter.
For us telemark skiers, the back ski gets a lot of pressure transferred to the tip when we flex in a telemark turn. From this, if the tip curvature is not big enough, like we see on all-around skis (95mm and less), I have found a lot of tip dive.
Telemark modern ski guide
Here are the ski categories I like and the use I make of it.
All Around skis (80mm to 95mm) For inbound, usually ski patrolling
I will look for:
traditional tip shape
Don’t take them short even if you want to play in the trees
Weight is often not important. I will mount these skis with a full frame binding like the BMF from Bishop or the Outlaw X from 22Designs.
I use these skis to rail turns on groomers, ski trees, bumps, all inbounds, with some quick outbound laps.
It’s been a couple of years I have skied a perfect ski in this category.
In the last two years, I’ve tried the Salomon QST 90, the Nordica EnRgy 90, the Nordica Enforcer, Atomic Backland 95, Black Diamond Helio 95, Black Diamond Route 88, Bishop Gonzo.
My favourites were the Salomon QST and the Bishop Gonzo.
My all-time favouriteswere the Black Diamond Warrant (2013) and the Black Diamond Aspect (2012). See the Philosophy section to learn why
Backcountry Telemark, Touring skis (100mm to 120mm)
I will look for:
lots of rocker (350mm+) soft shovel. I don’t mind the early rise tips for big powder skis.
some camber underfoot, avoid full rockered ski (banana shaped ski are not the best for telemark)
tail: not a lot of rocker and stiffer . If you lose balance and end up in the back seat, it will be harder to bring back.
radius is absolutely not important but it is usually around 18m- 22m
Weight is definitely important and I will aim for around 3 kg per pair.
Don’t hesitate to go longer than you are used to. 5 to 10cm longer is my general reference. The big rocker will still make the skis quick. In the end, it’s all about the float you need in the deep days.
My favourite all-time in this category are the new BD Helio 115. The old version called the 116 was already my favourites but the new 2020 version is just a notch better in variable snow conditions, the Achilles heel of big light skis.
Philosophy of modern skis, and the telemark turn
These are just the guide lines I found in the last years.
On piste All-Mountain experience.
We see more and more telemark skiers on piste with wide skis. I’m one of them.
Going back to old set up last year, I realized that we are going too wide.
Reducing the ski width for inbound skiing has enabled me to ski with ease, in moguls, carving, even in powder. Yes, I went slower in some conditions but in general, it was the opposite, I could go a lot faster, especially on hard pack and in moguls.
I fell in love with a pair of Salomon Slalom ski, with 67mm underfoot and 13m radius for carving. I had the best feeling in years on piste with these. Of course they didn’t allow for variable terrain shred, so this is not the solution for an all-around ski. Still, I found feelings I had forgotten, carving each turn like crazy.
I will be looking for a true all mountain, good for the condition we get in the East. Carving, moguls, trees. The Icelantic Sabre 89 would be a ski I’d like to try.
I tried 2 versions of BD Helio 105. These skis are great. They are good in all conditions, jack of all trade, quiver ski for snowy condition. But I really like the wider skis. 115 is so much more fun.
I will still try some 105 skis in the next few years because I can, but if I had one backcountry ski to get, I would go 110-115mm underfoot, light skis.
Ski shapes and intended use vary so much. There is one for everyone.
I ski manly East of North America with one occasional trip out West for the big mountains.
If I was out West year round, I would have a 100-105mm ski for inbound and the same 110-115mm for off piste
Also, I have a Bishop Chedi I really like. this ski doesn’t fit in any of the categories I explained above.
It’s not light,
It’s not wide
It’s a 100mm ski, full camber,
with a long radius.
In short, it’s a boring ski.
But it just works. A bit like the BD Warrant I mentioned above. Those kinds of skis seem to work really well for telemark. (Or at least, my style of telemark)
Last word about lenght.
Skis lateral stiffness has increased in the last few years and people are tempted to try shorter, wider skis. For me, this has never produced positive results.
For reference here are my skis lengths. I’m 6’01” / 200 lbs or 185cm / 90 kg. The ski lenght will vary depending on the ski category
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.
Telemark Lessons Fast Track to learn Telmark skiing for alpine skiers and snowboarders HD
here is a new trailer for our web tutorial series:
This tutorial is for intermediate alpine skiers or advanced snowboarders that are transitioning to Telemark.
Our experience have showed that the knowledge developed skiing or snowboarding is going to make a positive difference in learning Telemark.
This comprehensive course will enable you to progress faster and better. We will go from beginner to intermediate skills and even how to get started in moguls. This is a step by step tutorial, with drills for every skills shown along the way . This is also THE tutorial for telemark skiers that are stock in their progression with an Alpine like position. It will unlock the skills to go in harder terrain such as steeps, powder or moguls. Note that this is NOT a tutorial on moguls, steeps nor powder. We develop here the skills that will enable with to approach this types of terrain. Never before a tutorial as been set up like that. We skip the classic approach and give you the best for your buck package.
We talked about it in this post: trying to awser it the best, but we are missing knowledge. The research I found was from Scotland, limiting the accuracy of the data. We need a truly worldwide research.
Here’s your chance to contribute to the knowledge
Dr. med. Kai Fehske and Theresa Hardörfer are conducting this research and your input is crucial for the accuracy of the survey.
Here an email I got this week end
Dear Mr Trudel,
my name is Theresa Hardörfer, I`m studying medicine in Würzburg, Germany.
While searching on the internet I found your website.
Last year we started a survey about risks and injuries connected to telemarking. Our aim is to conduct the world`s most comprehensive study about injuries connected to telemarking.
The survey is neither supported by economy nor by the pharmaceutic industry; at the end the results will be accessible to everybody of course.
So far the survey goes on quite well in German speaking areas, but I didn’t have much success in English speaking (and other language speaking) countries.
That’s why I`m writing to you. I want to please you, to help me forward this link to as many telemarkers as possible. Thus I wanted to ask you whether you could post this link on your website or if you have other ideas to reach as many telemarkers as possible.
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.