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  • I only care about other people adopting telemark touring to the extent that it gets me access to better gear. I'm type 3 (soloist) in the touring typology, so I don't care about keeping up with anyone. However I won't do long tours on TXP's and have gone the Frankenboot route instead. I would gladly throw some money Scarpa's way even if their boot is no better than an F1/F3, simply in the hope that it justifies future investment into a boot that is. Plus it's getting harder to find replacements for 10-15 year old boots that were pretty limited production to begin with.

    I don't mind the perception of telemark skiers as a bunch of graybeards, but it does annoy me to see the vast majority of them on cable bindings at the resort where I ski. When a lift ticket is $150+, surely some of these people can throw a few bucks at an NTN setup to fuel innovation. I saw one Meidjo and a handful of Lynx at the resort this season. On the other hand I don't think a day went by that I didn't see several Targas and BD01s.

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    • Originally posted by bobbytooslow View Post
      ...it's more complicated than that. ... And that won't change until there is legit touring-minded tele gear (that doesn't hold you back when touring with AT friends).

      It's kinda like Chevy's logic for making Corvettes. People may decide a different model is actually best for their needs, but the Corvette is what gets them in the door.
      I'm not really disagreeing with you about the image thing. In fact, that is the number one thing that must change and is something that WE can change whereas we seem to have ZERO influence on changing the boots. However, on all my recent tours over the past two years the average AT skier has a rig that is the same or heavier than my tele rig (tech bindings, TX). If they're faster it's based on age alone. Only a minority are on uber-light AT rigs. So it's back to the image thing and frankly I don't know how to create an image for a demographic I don't understand. The 7-touring types rings true, but something is missing.


      ain't no turn like tele!

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      • No doubt that Scarpa needs to "thread the needle" with their new touring boot to have a balance between race quality features and recreational user's sensibilities. Your average touring skier doesn't want a full on race boot. Nor do they want a Txpro for touring. The Tx was the best touring tele boot ever made, and it would need some improvements to be that new "best" touring boot ever made for tele. Mostly, we touring gearheads have beaten that horse to death here, but while we wait for scarpa to deliver there's always a swat or two taken to relieve the tension...

        The Tx, as it was made, wasn't that far from being a great touring boot. If it lost some weight and had a greater range of cuff movement, with less cuff resistance in walk mode, it would thread that needle fine. I always thought the buckle placement was perfect on the Tx and they got the flex just right where it needed to be so it wasn't too soft to drive a bigger ski.

        I wonder how much softer (think lighter) they could make it before the average ski tourer would see it as a race boot and not practical to buy for their use...
        Last edited by tele.skier; 13 May 2021, 09:43 AM.
        the fall line is your friend.... resistance is futile

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        • The question of marketing a more relatable image to a group of people outside the sport is really interesting in telemark. That is not something that gets much attention. The stereotype does. I had no idea that it felt like serious baggage to some people. I can see how it might be baggage to anyone trying to grow telemark in a business sense. Maybe a comparison to how snowboarding became popular in the 1990s could illuminate even if it isn’t a direct comparison with how snowboarding was new then and it was its first boom. I’d be really curious how the snowboard brands made efforts to market themselves and to what groups. Much has changed in our world with the growth of the internet and social media so it gets hard to make direct comparisons. Snowboarding seemed like it had a very grassroots beginning that grew pretty organically but was marketed either way. Maybe like the waves of telemark where it grew because of its use as entry to out of bounds then became heavily marketed. I don’t think telemark will get to where it was twenty years ago anytime soon. It would be wild if the big ski companies started making telemark specific skis again! Now snowboarding’s not much more popular than telemark skiing. Popularity of skiing v. snowboarding, with telemark thrown in there, seems to be cyclical based on gear improvements. Then a healthy dose of attitude then marketing thrown in that people connect with. Or repel if you aren’t in the group. The old snowboard stereotype of the brash marijuana smoking, baggy pants, rap blasting punk isn’t great to some but it’s probably still something younger people can connect with. Plus it seems like its morphed with the times. The telemark image or stereotype is not something most younger folks connect to, whether they’re the college kids or the successful millennials. I'll admit its a little stale. A lot of people who telemarked in the previous waves were of a hippy bent, not all, but they were there. And the funniest and most blatant examples of those people are now a large part of the stereotype. You sure don’t have to smoke weed, look like Jerry Garcia, and follow jam bands to telemark. And the world is most certainly moving on from that anyways, even if some of us are still into those things. I’d say the torch from that culture hasn’t really been picked up by the next generation, in either skiing or life. But there is something about telemark being outside of the main stream that is part of the appeal to many. I actually believe that telemark is outside the mainstream by its very nature. Everyone is more into instant gratification in society these days with all the new things like social media, the millennials and beyond have just grown up with it so its easy to blame them for behaving that way when in fact everyone is now. Telemark skiing is one of those things that just doesn’t gratify very quickly. I guess the question is how you market telemark at all then if its both renegade but trying for a little mainstream in this day. I really wonder how the image changes to something less stereotypical. Purity and passion and taking the path less traveled have always made telemark a great thing. People still get involved because of those reasons. And that might be enough to get some new gear and keep things rolling.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by HavingAGoodTime View Post
            I really wonder how the image changes to something less stereotypical.
            Abandoning stuff like "Free the heel, Free the mind" and "Randonnee: French for can't tele" would be a really good start!

            Lots of good points, HavingAGoodTime . We definitely need to lose the sanctimoniousness, though it's a bit of a tricky needle to thread. You still want to portray that it's a fun awesome thing to do! But maybe not "sacred," or better than anybody else.

            Embracing some of the stereotypes in a self-deprecating manner can help if the attempt lands right. There's a great Instagram account @telemark_is_dead, who makes trippy Grateful Dead telemark stickers. It's all very tongue-in-cheek, and comes across as "OK, we don't take ourselves as seriously as folks previously did." Some of the other stickers/shirts I see are pretty cringe in their earnestness, definitely the exact type of thing that spawned the "Nobody cares that you tele" stickers.

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            • "It would be wild if the big ski companies started making telemark specific skis again! "

              I remember, when the K-2 skis had factory inserts, for the standard 4 hole Targa cable binding. It was super easy to mount bindings, they never tore out and it was easy to swap bindings from one pair of skis to another. A certain binding developer, I know still skis prototypes on these old K2 skis, and moves his bindings from one set of skis to another easily.

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              • For a small effort he could put inserts in a more modern (read better) ski. But that's just me being elitist. I was never a fan of that vintage of K2 telemark skis.

                While I can see from a marketing perspective the appeal of a telemark-specific ski, I remain firmly in the camp of many alpine skis make great telemark skis. Dostie's recent video about what makes a good telemark ski rings true and provides a good set of guidelines to someone who might not be sure what to buy. I don't know how marketing telemark-specific skis would play in the long run. Once someone gets good and knows what they like--especially if they like a TX-Comp or T-Race type of boot--a telemark-specific ski is not going to cut it for them. For someone who is only going to dabble in it or will be satisfied with limits to performance, a telemark ski might be something they would love. But K2 tried it and then bailed. ScottyBob, while the only ski that is truly designed for telemark, was and remains a very small boutique brand. If we are trying to convert people who can already alpine ski to telemark, we need to be honest about what they can use for telemark skiing and the fact of the matter is they don't need a telemark ski.

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                • Cesare, you are certainly correct. And those skis are very behind the modern times. Its getting to be pretty late in the future now, maybe there could be some new technologies that could make a specific telemark ski worth while! With all the many smaller ski companies now too. How are the new free heel life skis and the bishop skis? Those look fun. I guess looking back on those old days makes it feel like telemark had such a thing going on with the big companies making telemark skis, even if they didn’t suit everyone. Now some skis come with a warning that you cant put telemark bindings on them. I get the core cant take the bindings on the light skis. All I’m saying is that’s a sign o the times. I don’t think it’s a build it and they will come deal as much the next generation needs to be in place, but I guess the first plastic boots kind of were. But lots of smart people think the new bindings and new boots could be the field of dreams. I wonder how telemark could be better marketed to the fitness crowd? The strava types seem to like ultra marathons and things like that, telemark skiing is much more fun and easier than that! They might be into the challenge. I still think it wouldn’t appeal to all of them. Strava folks like to be fast, they might get bummed being the last one up and down among their alpine skiing friends!

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                  • Originally posted by cesare View Post
                    If we are trying to convert people who can already alpine ski to telemark, we need to be honest about what they can use for telemark skiing and the fact of the matter is they don't need a telemark ski.
                    Indeed. That's just one more barrier to entry, one more thing a local shop needs to carry -- boots & bindings is enough of an ask already -- so shops decide to not bother with telemark at all.

                    Fancy lightweight touring skis aside, any ski can be made into a telemark ski as long as it has the right dimensions for your size and what you plan to do with it. Where I ski, a volcano with sharp little rocks and abundant sunshine, skis get chewed up pretty quickly; for lift-serve, they're more or less consumables. So you get whatever you can find on sale, and boom your technique adapts.

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                    • Yeah, I don't really think trying to appeal to skimo athletes or ultra runners is going to pull many people into telemark. I do think the market has always been alpine skiers and snowboarders looking for something cool or for the challenge of learning new techniques. Anecdotally, I get more comments from boarders that telemarking looks cool than I do from alpiners. I do agree with those who are saying that growing the sport has to come from ski resorts because that is the training ground where new converts can get enough reps in to master the turn. Somebody who is focused on fast and light travel or competition is never going to want to take the weight penalties or the learning curve. They already have something they can do and they are focused on mastering that. And mastering skimo racing or fast and light travel does not include mastery of the downhill part in any significant way. They just want to get down in one piece and start up again where the races are won and lost. Of course there are telemarkers who also do skimo, some like bobbytooslow on this forum. I've run ultras myself. But again, I don't see skimo crossover as a growth segment for telemark. I don't mind saying I find the downhill component of light gear to be cringeworthy. The people who do it are either such great skiers they can make it work just fine or they don't care enough about it in the context of getting up the mountain as fast as possible.

                      Plastic boots, on the other hand were most definitely build it and we will come. We had been modifying our gear for years trying to make it work with the alpine skis of the day, which were not much wider than telemark skis were at that time. They were just stiffer and higher performance. That's why, for a time, Kazama skis really hit the sweet spot for telemarking with leather boots. They were narrow so we could drive their edges but they were single camber and stiff enough to perform on the down with those boots. But they were never enough. We wanted more, were screaming for more, and Scarpa obliged. Once we got plastic, the whole world of alpine skis was there for the experimenting. I have pushed my own envelope with stiffer, higher performance alpine skis and found limits to what I can handle. But there are plenty of moderately stiff, round flexing skis that work perfectly for tele. It's a different dynamic today. The old guard are getting old. I'm 64 and while I can ski better than ever because of the gear we have today, there are a lot of things I can't do anymore and I am adding to that list every year. The future of telemark has to be younger athletes and the ones who already know how to ride on snow are alpine skiers and boarders. They have a much steeper learning curve than someone just starting out who really wants to ski in the backcountry. So yeah, I think telemark gear *is* all about boots and bindings.

                      All this means that the industry and we the practitioners have to make it cool again. I do what I can to show it off at ski areas... somebody has to LOL. I generally prefer to ski backcountry about 90% of the time. But this year, under COVID, not only did I have few partners (I don't solo) and the ski areas in Hokkaido were empty so I did a lot of days at Niseko. I also make alpine turns when the snow is not smooth. If I didn't I wouldn't be able to last more than a run or two. When the snow is good, I'm on it because I still and will always love the groove of the telemark turn. At ski areas I try to be a quiet but visible ambassador for the sport. But what I do is not eye-popping. I have a speed limit much of the time, I don't like to beat myself up in bumps, and I don't get in the air. I guess I'm realizing that it is younger people who already tele who are going to have to take up that mantle because most of us geezers can't ride at that level, if we ever could.
                      Last edited by cesare; 15 May 2021, 12:18 PM.

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                      • Originally posted by JackO
                        the Skimo type now may have been tele skiers before, but they aren’t coming over. And clearly all the backcountry skiers now on AT rigs, a ton of those people are the telemark skiers of before. And I don’t think they’re coming over/back over in any numbers.
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                        more tents, more festivals, more chances to try boots and skis. We probably need 10 more Freehill life’s and Fey brothers…Or maybe more people like us can help out by volunteering, helping out the ski shops in our local ski areas to make those things happen.

                        Who knows who makes the jump when it gets a lot easier to try
                        These things are not mutually exclusive. Former tele skiers that have decided to ski AT in the backcountry likely haven't heard of some of the 'advances' in more modern telemark equipment. Anecdotally, the former tele skiers I know don't think that there has been any innovation since 2 buckle T2s and original Voile Switchback. Both very skiable and serviceable, but not anything that would make those skiers come back.

                        Having demo events with "cutting edge" telemark equipment is critical if any of them are to reconsider coming back to telemark. Oh and enough of tele skiers bitching about prices, etc. If you are skiing in November through May, and have had your gear for more than 5 years....it's time to get some new gear. Even if it's used or demo gear. Invest in your experience and allow that to trickle through the industry.

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