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  • XCD/Skimo overlap

    In today's Freeheel Life Podcast episode ("The Death of 75mm"), they talk about holes in the current NTN offerings, and how a T4-class boot and lightweight tech pin binding "would be pretty cool" for folks doing "rugged touring" aka XCD aka meadow skipping.

    Well sh*t, that's pretty much what I'm on every morning for training at the ski area. F1 Carbon & DIY TTS (though it could be F1 Carbon + duckbutt & Meidjo if I weren't a weight-weenie). So, that got me thinking... Could an NTN boot & binding system be made that satisfies XCD users, T2/Switchback users, and skimo-type/fitness-skinning users?

    The boot part of the equation is easy. Base it off the F1. Done.

    Bindings are trickier. The podcast was talking in terms of NTN rather than TTS. So let's keep it NTN.

    The ability to rapidly switch uphill to downhill and back while staying in the toe pins would be essential, right? Is the Lynx easy/reliable enough in this regard?

    Are the Lynx/Meidjo light enough at 450-500g, or is that too heavy for nordy-leaning XCDers? Could some weight be trimmed since the boot is less stout?

    Releasability isn't real important for XCD setups. Does having a duckbutt connection change this?

    Does there need to be some sort of light toe bumper style stride resistance? Could this be accomplished with the main springs, or does it need to be a toe bumper?

    Would cheapskate tele skiers try to make this their lift-serve setup, then complain to warranty departments when it doesn't last like a T1 & Targa?

    Last edited by bobbytooslow; 14 February 2022, 12:49 PM.

  • #2
    As others have posted, I believe any "new" NTN boot from Scarpa (and others) will be in the class of the Maestrale, around 1500g. Good business sense, but heavier than a certain portion of the tele-skiing population has been pining for. Would that portion of the population be big enough to make business sense if it included NNN-BC meadow skippers, non-aggro tourers (T4+3pin, T2+Switchback), and ultralight skimo types? Could a universal product be made that adequately meets the needs of all these folks? Could it be done with NTN?

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    • #3
      when I looked at racing skimo on tele, the only setup I could find that met all of the ISMF( and therefore USSMA) rules was Meidjo + Crispi. that was for 2 reasons: 1) bindings had to be releasable 2) heel must be capable of being locked down. while getting creative with binding mashups would seem to make it possible to meet these 2 requirements, there is quite often a 3rd ISMF rule that says "front and rear binding pieces must be from the same manufacturer"...while slightly vague, I think that rule is aimed at preventing franken-binding mashups. probably the IFS has a similar rule for alpine.

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      • #4
        I should clarify that by "skimo-types" I mean folks skiing uphill primarily for fitness, with the turns being a nice bonus. I don't mean folks competing in actual ISMF skimo races. Doing that on tele gear would be silly. Fitness-skinning is HUGE now, and many of the practitioners are or have been telemarkers at some point, though many opt for skimo/AT gear when cruising up & down the corduroy.

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        • #5
          I've said this before... I think it could be done, but it won't. The way it could be done: make a boot that's somewhere between an F1 race and a T4 with no duck butt (or maybe with a removable duck butt). The reason I think it won't be done is, in order to be appealing to XCD and Skimo type users, it needs to be light enough that it wouldn't hold up to severe resort use, plus the duck butt would be dead weight for those users.

          The question of whether it will appeal for TTS/Skimo comes down to whether the duck butt is a first-class entity or an afterthought. Any NTN binding is more than 1 pound per foot with significant touring compromises, which means there's not much incentive to shave weight off of a 3 pound boot at the expense of resort capability. A TTS-only boot (or TTS-first boot) can work with sub-400g bindings, or 150g bindings in meadow-skipping/kick and glide mode (no springs), which means people who will use it that way will value a 1200g boot.

          But if Scarpa is not willing to admit that NTN can't do everything, then they're going to make it an NTN-first boot that works with TTS. The problem is not the duck butt itself, but the use case that the duck butt implies (heavier bindings, resort-first, the community around it, etc.).

          Edit: it's also not only Scarpa's decision. They have allegiance to companies like 22D/Meidjo that have invested heavily in supporting NTN. Building a non-NTN (or not primarily NTN) telemark boot could be seen as undercutting their partners.
          Last edited by jtb; 14 February 2022, 02:07 PM.

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          • #6
            bobby, I think you are making a good point: there is a "sport" between skimo racing and pure backcountry: "uphill for fitness" and cross-training. done at resorts, probably on groomers, but serious athletes doing serious work. I wonder if that could be a new market. but the startup costs need to be somewhat reasonable to catch on, which means the gear needs to be mass manufactured.

            I raced this past weekend with a "kid" in his early 20's. it was his first skimo race. he was a collegiate cross-country runner with a middle-distance runner physique. with some help from the community he was able to assemble a decent race starter kit. his fitness was extremely good and he was quick. he only had 1 pair of skins and they failed, so his race kind of came off the rails, but my point is: if gear was reasonably priced and easier to get, these types of cross-overs could become a lot more common.

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            • #7
              I can see the benefit of a light touring setup for sure.

              Not sure it's for the fitness folks skinning the ski hill though, is it? Don't they want 'fitness' (weight), then ski down a groomed run? This version of skiing here at least has a pretty steep up track.

              Yesterday I kinda tested a bit of this theory brought up by BTS. With Lynx on, I took a decommissioned forest service road for about 100m flat around a corner to avoid having to put my skins on to get up a very short section to connect two downhill slopes. As I was trudging along in ski mode I thought about trying it in tour mode. Very quickly I was able to flip the binding claw off the duckbutt and then pull it back up again to engage - both with my poles. With the Lynx this is very easy. BUT, the problem was without any resistance on my skis or in the binding (just the tech toes), I was kinda flailing as my skis shot back when I tried to slide forward.

              I've been thinking about something for this purpose for some time now but haven't been able to commit to anything. For me it is meadow skipping where there is a lot of nearly flat travel and then a bunch of small slopes that are worthwhile to ski but not so long that you want to be donning and doffing skins for every one.

              I think a fish scale ski would be needed. Lynx would be adequate...only a lighter version would be ideal, with a lighter flex for what would presumably be lighter boots. Not sure about how the resistance works in XC skiing, but there is a certain about of resistance there. I guess it would be nice to have a binding that had these three modes: 1) full free pivot a la tech toes, 2) some resistance a la XC skiing and 3) a proper tele resistance... but perhaps a toned down stiffness.

              I've tried goofing around with an old riva binding and my old leather boots with a ski where I have removed some base and filled it with skins underfoot. Kinda works but the boots are still heavy and no longer as comfortable as I remembered. In the end, I think a fish scaled ski would probably be enough for me to find some fun doing this with my current Lynx and TXP... but both in lighter form would be appreciated.

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              • #8
                Isn’t the Rotefella Xplore system the answer. My guess is that this system will supercede the lightweight 75mm bindings in due course.

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                • #9
                  jtb You may be right, that this whole idea just won't fly if there's a duckbutt involved. That kinda opens up a debate that deserves a thread of its own: Now that 75mm retail is pretty much dead, are all the companies going whole-hog NTN? What exactly should the future look like in terms of Norms?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bauerb View Post
                    bobby, I think you are making a good point: there is a "sport" between skimo racing and pure backcountry: "uphill for fitness" and cross-training. done at resorts, probably on groomers, but serious athletes doing serious work. I wonder if that could be a new market. but the startup costs need to be somewhat reasonable to catch on, which means the gear needs to be mass manufactured.
                    In most places, this already exists and is thriving. At our goofy little ski area in Arizona, a weekday morning will have 30+ folks skinning before the lifts open. Go to a place like Aspen or SLC, and the numbers are insane. And while some folks begin their on-piste fitness journey on tele gear, most jump ship to AT fairly quickly. I should also note that most of the practitioners are not dirtbags too cheap to buy a pass -- 73% of our uphillers also have a season pass -- but they're driven professional type people who like to exercise and who don't mind spending money.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by telemarkmark View Post
                      Isn’t the Rotefella Xplore system the answer. My guess is that this system will supercede the lightweight 75mm bindings in due course.
                      The system has potential, but is anyone going to make boots beefy enough to use for tele turns on anything but the lowest-angle terrain? I hope someone does! But I'm not aware of anything at the moment.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jnicol View Post
                        meadow skipping where there is a lot of nearly flat travel and then a bunch of small slopes that are worthwhile to ski but not so long that you want to be donning and doffing skins for every one.

                        I think a fish scale ski would be needed. Lynx would be adequate...only a lighter version would be ideal, with a lighter flex for what would presumably be lighter boots. Not sure about how the resistance works in XC skiing, but there is a certain about of resistance there. I guess it would be nice to have a binding that had these three modes: 1) full free pivot a la tech toes, 2) some resistance a la XC skiing and 3) a proper tele resistance... but perhaps a toned down stiffness.
                        Spot on. I think this type of use has a huge potential for growth as ski areas and traditional backcountry zones get more and more crowded. Milk all those short shots of freshies! It'd help to have gear that's capable of a few more thrills than current XCD but with the same low-hassle, efficient tourability.


                        Originally posted by jnicol View Post
                        Not sure it's for the fitness folks skinning the ski hill though, is it? Don't they want 'fitness' (weight), then ski down a groomed run? This version of skiing here at least has a pretty steep up track.
                        I get what you're saying, but most folks find that if they have a set time window to ski, multiple laps on light, big-ROM gear is much more enjoyable than one lap on heavy, poor-ROM gear. Even if the physiological benefit may be similar. Most of the adults I see doing it are plenty happy to buy gear that will let them ascend faster.

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                        • #13
                          thats cool that so many people are going uphill at resorts. at my local resort in PA I've only seen one other guy all winter. I've spent 3 weeks in VT so far this winter and normally see 5-10 people going uphill at the small local resort I go to. I don't ski the largest resorts so I didn't realize that its gaining traction

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                          • #14
                            I hesitate to say this, but for "fitness skinning", I'd gladly sacrifice a little weight (measured in 100g, not pounds) for ease of use. In other words, I'd rather tour in a Switchback than Lynx/Meidjo... but rather TTS than either. The duck butt and claw just cause too many problems (icing, claw grabbing, boot jack, fiddly transitions). Even if they were the same weight, I'd still leave my Meidjo for the resort/sidecountry and use TTS when primarily skinning.

                            Relating back to the original question, If Scarpa made a 1300g boot with a great tour mode that worked for TTS, I'd probably buy it, even though it's heavier than my boots. At 1500g, I'd probably keep using F1 Carbon/Race.
                            Last edited by jtb; 14 February 2022, 04:21 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by bobbytooslow View Post

                              The system has potential, but is anyone going to make boots beefy enough to use for tele turns on anything but the lowest-angle terrain? I hope someone does! But I'm not aware of anything at the moment.

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