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  • Madsen’s recent podcast geared toward new telemark skiers appears to be his most listened to to date. By a wide margin.

    I was surprised to see that: There might really be a decent amount of people interested in starting, and they may be engaging - though so far on a surface level - in higher numbers than people like on this forum. That made me think about the whole chicken and egg situation with boots.

    What does a newcomer/beginner need in a boot vs. someone who’s been waiting for the great modern telemark boot from Scarpa for years? How can Scarpa bridge any gap there? Especially with one boot? Can this new, modern, possibly-UTN boot cater to both cohorts? Which cohort is most important to market / cater to?

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    • I think it depends on whether those newcomers have an advanced, hard-charging alpine background, or an XC/BC background. For the former, they would do best with stiff boots and bindings that are as close to alpine as possible (Outlaw, TXC/TXP). For the latter, they would do best with a tech toe, heel throw, and lighter/softer boots. UTN is unnecessary for the former, but essential for the latter.

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      • I think it's two different issues. The "great modern telemark boot" that we here romanticize would mainly be targeted at existing tele skiers, as a way to keep them in the sport (to keep them from jumping to AT), and to hopefully recapture some of those who've left (those who enjoy the turn, but who are unwilling to experience the extra suffering when touring).

        How many beginners are dropping coin on a full new setup? Something appropriate for new boots would be $800 + $500 (bindings) + $700 (skis) = $2000. Something like T2's and Super Stinx + G3's from the used sporting goods store are great for a beginner, and can be had for a few hundred bucks if you know where to look. They don't need any fancy touring capabilities, because learning the tele turn in the backcountry is a rough go; lift-serve is far more appropriate when learning.

        Once they get the turn down a bit and are ready to commit and invest in a better setup, it would benefit everybody -- not just the boot mfrs, but the binding mfrs and retailers too -- if there were a full range of boots so someone can buy with confidence that this expensive new setup is going to adequately meet their needs.

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        • My hot take is this sport is screwed if we are relying on one boot manufacturer to someday pull a rabbit out of a hat to make a new boot for us, and also expect the others (Crispi, maybe Scott) to follow.

          Even if Scarpa were to do it this year (sounds like they won't. and likely not next year either), that's still not a healthy situation. Only one boot mfr is not a good situ even if the new boot is awesome. I can't make the TX Pro fit me, and I wear Crispis because of that. What guarantee do we have that Crispi will even still continue to make boots after a new Scarpa is out? The sport will shrink if there's no options for people. And if the new boot specializes for backcountry, that leaves the inbounds people potentially unsatisfied, and vice versa.

          It's not a good situation.

          My guess/opinion is that tele as we know it today can only survive in the long run if the same thing that is happening for bindings happens for boots, and that is that boot manufacturing becomes something where smaller manufacturers (similar to 22 designs or M Equip or Bishop) can innovate and produce a product.

          I'm sure plastics manufacturing tech and 3d printing etc. must be coming along and that eventually this will be feasible. It's not my specialty, but I gotta wonder if there's some enterprising young engineer out there who is close to it and we're just a kickstarter away from something if only the right inquiries and research was done.

          Even if it's not perfect, it would be a start. I know I personally would throw money at such a project, if only it existed.

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          • I think the present boots and bindings are awesome for inbounds skiing. It's really hard to imagine much improvement. The only thing that we lack is lightweight, good RoM for backcountry. And again, I think the only thinking stopping that is the toe cage. Make a tech-only boot and it works great....the old F1 and F3 are pretty great despite being made on 15 year old technology and never being intended for tele use at all. So, Scarpa, just go bring back the old F1, upgrade it a little, add on a bolt-on duckbutt (should be easy for them...they could probably make a jig to drill holes in the boot), add a heel groove and bellows guard. Call it the F1X, and have done.

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            • How much of the XC crowd is going to end up on Xplore? If that platform beats NTN to a T4 equivalent I’d say NTN will remain the realm of heavy telemark.

              Having essentially a ‘beginners’ norm with 75mm vs. an ‘advanced’ norm with NTN seems problematic. The cost issue is absolutely real, but then there is a never ending cycle of converting people to NTN (as long as there is easily accessible 75mm gear, which should be a while). That doesn’t seem to bode well for NTNs ascendency and eventual capturing of the business, and it doesn’t monetize entry level sales for the manufacturers well. Not that I personally want that, but the boot manufacturers probably do.

              Binding manufacturers making the boots feels like the holy grail of this situation. Quicker turnaround time, less bureaucracy, more innovation.

              The F1x solution seems so feasible and that it would check a lot of boxes for people like us. My next thought is that 6200 people listened to Madsen’s beginner podcast just on YouTube, 1000 for the UTN one. For the sake of a thought experiment: The hypothetical F1x is made for a decent amount of existing tele skiers, but represents a small fraction of the whole because it leaves out a lot of potential users by making something so specific and non-entry level. I wonder if Scarpa is thinking along similar lines.

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              • Lots of good points, JackO. It's certainly easy for us to armchair QB the thing when it's not our livelihoods at stake.

                Originally posted by JackO View Post
                How much of the XC crowd is going to end up on Xplore? If that platform beats NTN to a T4 equivalent I’d say NTN will remain the realm of heavy telemark.
                It seems like the T4/Switchback scene is safe from Xplore overlap for the time being, for pretty much the same reasons this thread exists: No one is making the right boots to tour efficiently and ski hard with a free heel. You're right though, this is another large user group that the purveyors of plastic telemark could tap into. That was the thrust of this thread.

                Originally posted by JackO View Post
                Having essentially a ‘beginners’ norm with 75mm vs. an ‘advanced’ norm with NTN seems problematic. The cost issue is absolutely real, but then there is a never ending cycle of converting people to NTN (as long as there is easily accessible 75mm gear, which should be a while). That doesn’t seem to bode well for NTNs ascendency and eventual capturing of the business, and it doesn’t monetize entry level sales for the manufacturers well. Not that I personally want that, but the boot manufacturers probably do.
                You're not wrong. I just don't see a better solution given the current size of the sport and the reality of mold amortization costs, etc. (Of course increasing participation would help a ton, but that gets into the circular logic, chicken/egg thing.) Alpine skiing has the numbers to make retail entry-level ski-boot-binding setups in the $800-1000 range. Really, the TX Pro is a great entry-level tele boot in every aspect but the $800 price tag.

                I suppose if the will existed, entry-level retail gear could be made. If Scarpa someday makes a new & improved TX Pro, a dumbed-down version of the current one could possibly live on (perhaps with cheaper hardware, no tech inserts, cheaper liner, etc) at a more entry-level price point. Bindings could certainly be made less expensive (and simpler, and lighter, and more durable) by eliminating the tour mechanism, just a full-time lift-serve deal. Sounds like 22D and The M might have things in the works.

                Originally posted by JackO View Post
                Binding manufacturers making the boots feels like the holy grail of this situation. Quicker turnaround time, less bureaucracy, more innovation.

                The F1x solution seems so feasible and that it would check a lot of boxes for people like us. My next thought is that 6200 people listened to Madsen’s beginner podcast just on YouTube, 1000 for the UTN one.
                Indeed. As Madsen often says, the best progress would be made if it were all telemark companies driving things (rather than relying on larger multi-sport companies). But again it's the mold amortization costs making this not too realistic for any of the current players. It seems like 3D printing is still a ways off, even for alpine boots (which would be a lot simpler). Yeah it would be awesome if a smaller, tele-focused business could acquire the old F1/F3 molds (if they exist) but I'm not holding my breath.
                Last edited by bobbytooslow; 20 September 2022, 02:41 PM.

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                • Originally posted by JackO View Post
                  For the sake of a thought experiment: The hypothetical F1x is made for a decent amount of existing tele skiers, but represents a small fraction of the whole because it leaves out a lot of potential users by making something so specific and non-entry level. I wonder if Scarpa is thinking along similar lines.
                  I guess I'm not sure it has to be either/or. Like I said above, the only thing not-entry-level about Scarpa's current offerings is the price. Could they make a dumbed-down TX-Pro that retails for, say, $499? I don't know, maybe? Would this preclude them from also offering something to excite the current users (and possibly draw in XCD users)? I would hope not, but maybe?​

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                  • Scarpa is probably abiding by the 80/20 rule. 80% of their revenue comes from 20% of their customers. And when 80% (or more) of the 20% is alpine, it's easy to compute where 95% of their product focus will be.

                    Although it seems even less likely, I suspect that any improvement in telemark boots that address backcountry functionality will come from a new player using new technology to create something in a way that has never been done before. In the age of CAD and 3D printing somebody will figure out how to create a new telemark boot without spending $1,000,000,000 in molds. THAT will be the game changer needed to spur new boots and some competition with Scarpa which will finally get them off their risk averse arses.

                    Until then, garage bands rule. All praise and honor to BTS for the Michael Bolt-on duckbutt.



                    ain't no turn like tele!

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                    • Scarpa does pretty well selling non-telemark gear: climbing shoes, AT boots, Skimo racing, and outside the US they are making a dent in mountain running shoes...which demonstrates that they are wiling to invest in new products and markets that they believe will materially contribute to the future growth and revenue of the company.

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                      • I wonder if we will still be having this same discussion in 2030.

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                        • Skiing with a certain televangelist here on the east coast sporting a crispy (😉) new tele boot last spring, I was given the impression that this boot (the boot as it appears in photos on the internet or in some other more refined iteration) would be some sort of counter offering to Scarpa's new tele boot line in the near future and was slated to release the year of COVID. Consume with salt grain.

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                          • Oh boy jasonq your Photoshop job has hit the Facebook. I blame telemark_is_undead_

                            Click image for larger version

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                            • That's a sexy ass boot. Where do I buy one?

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                              • JTB, i just did a full size run on my 3D printer, including liners. send me $10000 cash and what size you want. I'm pretty busy right now, so it might take me a few years, or longer, to get them off to you. just be patient.

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