Satch- Hopefully, we are helping you!
"Nordic" skiing covers a spectrum that is very wide and very deep- from high-performance XC on the groomed track- to big-mountain "T
elemark", which has evolved to be to akin to "Alpine Touring" (AT), in that it is primarily designed to climb up and ski down extreme terrain- AND- then of course there is everything in between.
I may well have misinterpreted your OP- assuming that you were- at this point- primarily interested in traditional "Nordic touring" (i.e. XC
d) in the backcountry.
If your primary interest is in developing Nordic-downhill skills and- in particular- learning the t
elemark turn, then perhaps you should focus on that?
Don't get me wrong- one can certainly develop Nordic-downhill skills while on distance tours in hilly/mountainous terrain. But- and I am certain many agree- if you are new to Nordic skiing- and you want to "shred" downhill- then your learning curve will be faster if you spend some concentrated time focusing on downhill skiing and turning skills.
(If to shred is your bag- you may actually want to start a new thread that focuses on that...)
If to XC ski in the backcountry is your focus at the moment-
On the subject of plastic touring boots-
I disagree that 75mm bindings create a closer more responsive connection between boot/foot and ski- There is VERY little play between a NNN/SNS binding and boot. The 75mm-NN platform allows one to wear a much more rigid boot- also requiring and allowing stronger and more active bindings. The increased support, stability, and control of a boot like the plastic T4- compared to a soft XC boot, like the leather Alaska/Antarctic- comes from its rigidness.
Boots like the T4- and the even more flexible Excursion (although apparently the current T4 has more flex than the previous model- read the review)- are at the distance-oriented end of the big-mountain "T
elemark" boot spectrum. The previous model T4 has been my boot of choice for Nordic touring in steep mountainous terrain- as it is at the distance-end of the "T
elemark" spectrum it is the only modern fully-plastic T
elemark boot I have ever owned. (Previous to that I owned the now extinct composite Merril Comp).
Although there are certainly high-cut, rigid, heavy-duty leather T
elemark boots that are as stiff and supportive as the T4, and certainly the Excursion, comparing a boot like the T4 to a boot like the Alaska or Antarctic doesn't make sense to me.
From my perspective- there really is no overlap in boots between XC and T
elemark. Nordic boots that are designed first for downhill stability (i.e. T
elemark) do not
have the flexibility and range of motion of a boot that is designed to primarily xcountry ski.
BC-XC boots that are designed to offer some extra downhill stability (e.g. Crispi Svartisen/Fischer BCX6) are still first and foremost XC boots and do not offer the rigidness and stability of even the most distance-oriented T
elemark boots (such as the Excursion/T4).
Everything has a trade-off- a boot like the T4/Excursion will most definitely offer greater stability and control when downhill skiing. BUT- the T4/Excurion boot will not offer the XC performance of a xcountry boot.
If you want to primarily develop your downhill skills- perhaps you should be looking at T
elemark equipment instead of xcountry.
(Please forgive my perhaps obnoxious quotes and underlines- I am trying to help clarify what we are talking about- Nordic skiing is a big universe- and the little "t" t
elemark is a turn- that can be done on any ski with a Nordic binding and boot that allows a natural metatarsal flex. Big "T" T
elemark conventionally refers to Nordic boots and bindings that are primarily designed to ski downhill.)
(And- please forgive my longwindedness- just trying to be clear and helpful!