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  • Turning Tele Around

    Received a PM today taking me to task for my closing quip on my Telemark Binding Selection Guide. He said it was an elitist and defensive statement. I concur. He didn't like it. Perhaps you agree with him, and to some extent, with me as well.

    The question it raises is how do we, the free heeled freaks, raise interest in telemark? Yes, it would be great if manufacturers would improve the boots to raise interest at the consumerist level but I don't think that is what will turn things around. And I'm not completely sure what will, although I have penned some thoughts on that to appear in Backcountry Mags 20 year anniversary issue, due out next month.

    But time's a wastin'. I'm throwing this out there for a lil' brainstorming among the brethren on what to do. I think the key is getting the next generation of skiers interested. I don't think we will ever dominate like we did in the 90s, and even then, that was only in the backwoods corner of the backcountry for a brief period of maybe 5 years. Even so, it would be nice to see some growth.

    So...what's it gonna take?

    ain't no turn like tele!

  • #2
    I think you'd have to outlaw AT gear.

    One place I think tele really excels is on lower angle rolling terrain. The problem is that puts it into the "third boat" category as we used to say in whitewater retail or maybe third pair of boots in skiing. See, most whitewater kayakers have one boat unless they're really serious and buy a creek boat. Kinda like most skiers only have a pair of boots for lift access and if they buy a pair of dedicated BC boots they're already pretty rare. Telemark boots and certain kayaks fit into this wasteland of only appealing to the most dedicated enthusiasts. That and some of the perceived fiddle factor and garage tinkered equipment are the main reasons I hear for not buying into telemark. A very light / high range of motion plastic boot and TTS-like pairing are an awesome category for keeping it safe during mid-winter conditions in the intermountain west, but they are the third boot in a culture still dominated by lift access and spring chuting season.

    BTW, anyone notice that B&D is offering a tech toe compatible telemark binding using Voile's removable heel springs?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Dostie View Post
      Remember, not everyone can tele.
      That's awesome! Funny. True. Funny and true. What more could one ask for?
      "Nobody ever got my name right." - Me

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      • #4
        Originally posted by riser3
        Originally posted by Dostie
        Remember, not everyone can tele.
        That's awesome! Funny. True. Funny and true. What more could one ask for?
        Not every one can sing, either. Even their grandparents don't really want to hear them try...

        Telefests should be free to newbies and I nominate Grant to be the Youth Minister for the Telemark Nation
        Last edited by RobRoyMeans; 7 October 2014, 02:19 PM.
        Go for adventure, take pix, but make certain to bring'em back alive!

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        • #5
          I suppose the line is somewhat elitist, but harmlessly so. Why shouldn't people who enjoy a non-mainstream sport that requires some degree of commitment feel good about that? And it isn't like telemarkers are trying to prevent others from joining the club, mostly tele skiers would be thrilled if there were lots more tele skiers, so daring people to join in if you can seems more friendly than stand-offish.

          Originally posted by Dostie View Post
          The question it raises is how do we, the free heeled freaks, raise interest in telemark?
          My main answer is who cares. I'm more interested in how we raise interest in backcountry skiing.

          Season before last (this past season I did precious little backcountry), I spent a glorious powder day with two friends on the slopes above Echo Lakes near Tahoe. I was on tele, and they were on AT and split-board. And really, I felt like we were all doing pretty much the same thing. It's the people who spent the day (also having fun) striding (or shuffling or clomping, XC/AT/snowshoes/whatever) out on the lakes who were doing something different.


          Three different sports, or one?

          How to raise interest in telemark? I'd say you do that by raising interest in the kinds of ski tours where tele gear does best, namely tours with some steepish hills but mostly a mix of rolling, traverses, and low-to-moderate angle slopes. That and play up the "something different" aspect, for people looking to make a "third boat" ski purchase.

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          • #6
            there is no turning around the decline in tele,.... YOU ELITEST!!!

            For some the car has replaced the horse. Not everyone wants to still ride a horse once they have tried a car.

            I began tele because it was a natural extension of the nordic skiing that I did during my teenage years. My family didn't have the money to alpine ski at resorts, so a XC skier I was.... I never looked at both and thought, let me do the one that is much harder to do.. All I knew was that there was a few places on the snow covered trails I skied (golf courses) that had some steep slopes, and a ski instructor friend showed me the telemark turn... We went to Mad river that year, I bought some heavy leather boots with a buckle and I was a telemarker, just add used 215cm rossi randonee skis...

            It was never popular back east where I skied except maybe at mad river, but I only got there once a year. It was never very popular at hunter or windham, although my friend margaret used to say that belayre had a lot of tele skiers... My friends just never wanted to go to bellayre because it had less vert... I wasn't really that in touch with how tele fit in out west until I moved to the seattle area, and it's changed a lot since I moved here 14 years ago. There used to be a lot of tele people at all levels everywhere on the mountain. I think the people who rip on tele gear had as much to do with the demise of tele as the popularity of better AT gear.

            I think some of the newbies get discouraged fast when they can't shred with their buddies after a short learning period, They are resigned to poodling around the green/blues while they watch dudes fly by them all day long on alpine gear,.... and even have to see a bunch of old goats on tele gear school them.. People don't want to start over by becoming a beginner again... in any kind of skill.

            There always be some people who want to try tele. Personally, I always encorage a person who asks about "WTF I am doing skiing like that", but people recognize it's harder to learn. I think the improvement in gear has made it easier and easier, which helped increase the number of people skiing tele for a while, but ultimately I think there's a finite number of people who want to work harder just to have a skiing style that's not based on using the most powerful tool available... A lot of tele guys I know,.... will now AT ski too.... and why not if you are having fun doing it...

            Is tele awesome on big pow days? of course.... Is alpine awesome on big pow days? of course too.... Is there a way to measure what percentage of skiers will work harder for a slightly different feeling turn...... Great question.... I have no idea,..... since I am an elitest too...

            I realize that for tele gear to continue to get better, there has to be a growing market for it.... My advice is to hoard your good gear now.....
            the fall line is your friend.... resistance is futile

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Matt J View Post
              I think you'd have to outlaw AT gear.


              BTW, anyone notice that B&D is offering a tech toe compatible telemark binding using Voile's removable heel springs?
              B&D has had the same photo and blurb of their TTS style binding up for over a year now, maybe 2, hasn't changed, and still says beta version. Do you know more about this than is on their website?
              If so please let us know what you got.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Gunks Ray View Post
                B&D has had the same photo and blurb of their TTS style binding up for over a year now, maybe 2, hasn't changed, and still says beta version. Do you know more about this than is on their website?
                If so please let us know what you got.
                That's all I got. I'm probably going to go down there to pick up some ski crampons later this year, so perhaps I'll ask and see if there is a physical example at the shop.

                bobs, I'm glad someone read my "third boat" theory.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Why would anyone who doesn't already do it, take it up? Telemark is dead (as far as growth goes) as a back/ side country tool. AT is easier and doesn't require learning new skills. The only new people I see taking up telemark skiing are soccer moms who want to look hard-core at the resort.
                  "I'm totally talking out my ass"………….riser3

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gunks Ray View Post
                    B&D has had the same photo and blurb of their TTS style binding up for over a year now, maybe 2, hasn't changed, and still says beta version. Do you know more about this than is on their website?
                    If so please let us know what you got.
                    I got to test them out last spring. Very similar to TTS and very simple. On the beta version, when you're going up, the hardwires/heels stay in your pack and then you attach them for the down. I think it would be nice to enclose the loop so that they're always on, but it is just a beta version, so perhaps that's the longer term plan. The plates (which go into a standard 4-hole tele mount) have various options for where to locate the Dynafit toes, so it's easy to mess around with different activity levels.

                    On my first run, I had the toes positioned in such a way that the binding was too close to neutral. Fine with a 3-pin binding where there's a lever holding down the duckbill and providing leverage when you bend a knee. But, with Dynafit toes, there is no leverage, and in the most neutral position, my toes on the rear foot would not bend. So, instead of weighting the ball of my foot, I was weighting the toes only, like a female ballet dancer would except with zero grace.

                    On my second run, I moved the toes to a much more active position and that solved the problem (though it was more active than my liking). For the rest of spring, I experimented with the original TTS, so that's all I got with the B&D version for now.

                    Overall, the binding is simple and effective, though I'm not sure what it gets you above the original TTS other than more options for honing in on your desired activity level. A couple of times when I was putting the skis on to go down, the hardwires would slip out, which I think would go away with more practice with them or enclosing the attachment point as Voile does with its bindings.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Sugarloafer View Post
                      Why would anyone who doesn't already do it, take it up? Telemark is dead (as far as growth goes) as a back/ side country tool. AT is easier and doesn't require learning new skills. The only new people I see taking up telemark skiing are soccer moms who want to look hard-core at the resort.
                      We tend to be 10 years or so behind the times in many things, and apparently telemark skiing is one of them. I see lots of folks learning to tele at our local resort. Obviously, a much smaller number than alpine/AT skiers, but I'd say it's alive and well up north.

                      I've also seen substantial growth in the number of backcountry skiers over the last 10 years.

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                      • #12
                        I started tele'ing again out of boredom at ski resorts. It just so happened that I was at Kicking Horse and the upper mountain was closed, which meant bunny hill only. So I went and rented tele gear and that was it. It also helped that I saw some rad tele skiers that motivated me to pursue it... and changed my opinion of telemark.

                        In order to grow it I think there needs to be easy access to rental gear that people can try out. I managed to do a few "learn to telemark" nights at the local hills with the BCMC and MEC, but MEC continuously tries to make it harder and harder to rent tele gear. As AT gear gains popularity, a lot of rental shops are dropping the tele rental gear, which makes it hard for someone to even try it.

                        And tele.skier, we all know the bicycle is going to replace the car, just as it replaced horses. Some people will be upset, but eff them.
                        No one cares that you can't tele

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                        • #13
                          Wanna grow tele skiing? Stop sucking. Having a bunch of middle age guys flailing around on on intermediate groomers makes us look like a bunch of gapers. Yeah, it's harder than alpine, but with modern gear it isn't THAT much harder. I know we can't all be Sakson's and Kimbrough's, but guys like that, who can hang with high level alpine skiers are key to bringing young blood into the sport. I mean seriously, when was the last time you saw a rippin' tele skier in their 20's? Or even 30's? If gear companies want to keep selling telemark gear (which I'm not sure they do) they need to invest in some talent. Throw out some sponsorships. Get strong tele skiers into alpine movies and comps. Show people what is possible with a free heel. Until kids are putting posters of tele skiers on their bedroom walls, and asking for the Sakson signature tele skis for christmas we are doomed to get smaller and older as a sport.
                          Last edited by rip; 7 October 2014, 08:26 PM.

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                          • #14
                            A little history review may be useful here. 40 years ago there were no Dynafits; all AT bindings were much heavier and/or offered poor performance. Nordic skis were skinny and the boots mostly soft and flexible offering very little control except for the very highly skilled practitioner. But a few wild-eyed crazies started pushing what could be done on skinny skis. A few manufacturers responded by building some skis that we would call the first telemark skis – what we’d now see as XCD skis. Some stiffer boots emerged as well- still leather but getting heftier and gradually being reinforced with plastic one way or another. Still mostly the few, the wild and the hairy participating. Then came the plastic tele boot. With the plastic boot you could control a wider ski – so the skis got wider, and became – downhill skis essentially, whether called telemark skis or called something else. More folks got into it, mostly because you could now do it at the resort, and you could ski gnarlier lines in the BC. Practically mainstream! And since gnar sells better than versatility, the gear got heavier and heavier.


                            But ah, what’s that sound I hear? Can it be nice light AT gear arriving from Europe? Ciao, baby! As the Tele stuff got heavier the At stuff got lighter. Suddenly (or seemingly so) At gear became the more efficient touring setup AND you can lock ‘em down for the descent. Kewl!


                            So when you look at it with a little historical perspective it seems like it comes down to this: Lots of folks like to slide down snowy mountains on stuff. Mostly they’ll pick the stuff that is the easiest to learn on. Maybe they’ll also go for the stuff that they end up having the most fun on. A much smaller number of folks like to go out into the mountains and wander around looking for mountains to slide down. They’ll mostly go for the lightest stuff that gets the job done. A few crackpots like myself just want to wander around the mountains and don’t even care much about the sliding down part. Now, out of those categories, which one is tele gear the best stuff for? Maybe the last one if you get the lightest plastic boots and some skis that are XCD-ish. Not any of the others. So the only reason to tele is because you like to tele. And that is going to limit who gets into it and who stays with it. And the limited numbers of participants are going to limit the manufacturer resources that are aimed at it. That’s my guess. Of course, your guess is as good as mine.

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                            • #15
                              >>dominate like we did in the 90s.

                              yeah that was awesome when we used to dominate. maybe at eldora or loveland. never saw that many at vail or beaver creek.

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