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Looking for some advice as a new XCD skier

Posted: Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:46 pm
by zgadow20
Hi folks. I've been lurking here for a while and have just decided to create an account. I'm about to ask some questions that have probably been posted here a bazillion times, so bear with me! I've been an alpine skier since I was a little kid and would consider myself an advanced or expert alpine skier, but I'm a beginner when it comes to nordic or telemark skiing. I have done a little tiny bit of XC skiing on edgless classic skis , but not much. I've always been impressed by telemark skiers, and have been wanting to learn telemark turns since I was a wee lad.

As a 25 y.o college student I've been too busy and broke to manage much skiing in the past few seasons, and I have a dog who I hate to leave at home when I go out to enjoy the outdoors. last winter I began shopping for nordic skis so that me and the pup could start skiing some of the hundreds of logging roads and hiking trails around where I live in Old Town, Maine. I'd also like to find some nice mild open downhills on which to attempt telemark turns (I know of some hillside clear cuts that will be perfect for this if the snow pack is adequate). I was lucky enough recently to get my hands on some new 2018 Alpina discovery 80 waxless BC skis (80-58-69) for only 60 dollars (never mounted), and now I'm looking to set them up with some 3 pin bindings (although I have also been considering the pro/cons of NNN-BC bindings).

I'm looking for advice choosing and mounting bindings for these skis. I'd like to mount them myself and was hoping to do it with minimal expense in tools ( I have a drill, but don't know if I need a special bit or metal jig or what). From what I've read Voile HD bindings or similar rottefella models are the way to go, but I don't know whether I will end up wanting heel cables and climbing wires like the ones on the voile traverse bindings?

I'm also haunting the internet hoping to find a good deal on some used telemark boots. I'm thinking that plastic boots like the Scarpa T4/Scott excursion would be ideal because I'd like a boot which rides the line between touring comfort and downhill stability. I'm young and have strong legs, and I think I'd rather lean towards more stable boots than lighter ones. I think lighter plastic boots would also allow me to occasionally rent beefier downhill telemark gear so that I can get out on the lift serviced bunny slopes to learn telemark turns. On the other hand, maybe I would be happier with a lighter leather boot for these current skis?

Thanks for any input! I'm looking forward to learning from your experiences.

P.s I tried to keep this brief, but clearly failed :lol:

SUMMARY:

-What bindings do you think would pair well with my new 80mm-58mm-69mm BC XC skis in order to comfortably tour moderate distances while still providing enough control to learn gentle telemark turns? Should I mount them at the center of balance of the ski or some other spot? what tools will I need?

-What type of boots would you choose to match a ski setup like this? Would I regret buying plastic boots after a few miles of touring? Would leather boots provide enough support for a beginner to learn basic telemark turns?

- Would it be a better idea to set up these new skis for touring only (using leather boots and possibly NNN-BC bindings, given that they are relatively skinny and have a good amount of camber) and plan to get a second pair of wider skis later on to learn telemark? In other words, am I being unrealistically optimistic in thinking I can use the BC XC skis and basic 3 pin bindings to learn telemark turns?

- How much is my alpine skiing experience going to benefit me in learning to telemark ski?

Re: Looking for some advice as a new XCD skier

Posted: Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:09 am
by greatgt
In for a penny in for a pound.....As a fanatic of all things leather....get leather....lite....totally flexible boots....The feel......Pins can do it all!!!!! NNN sorta......Knock yourself out doing it.....With the kind of equipment I'm advocating.....if you stay the course......you will know.....Do itttttt....TM

Re: Looking for some advice as a new XCD skier

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:47 pm
by Woodserson
Your skis, what length are they? Those Alpinas often come very short... at the expense of performance, especially for distance touring. What's your height/weight? With those kind of dimensions I would stick with soft leather boots. You're going to need both boots at some point. I skied aggressively as an alpine skier for most of my life and found telemark through back injuries where the locked heel was not compatible with my spine. The free heel has allowed me to keep skiing and I am close to where I was in my early 20's (I'm 40 in a few months). I do all my skiing on leather boots or Scarpa T4's, but that's not for everybody. I have learned to dance rather than rampage.

I learned to tele on leather boots. Then got the plastic T4's. I'm glad I went this direction. It took me a few years to become proficient, but when it clicks, you'll know it, you can feel your brain rewire. It's a cool feeling. The tele turn is the stuff dreams are made of.

Don't overthink the mounting, there are lots of great tutorials online, and maybe on this site too.

Things are bit slow right now because: August. More people will chime in soon.

WELCOME

Re: Looking for some advice as a new XCD skier

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:24 am
by lilcliffy
Welcome, zgadow20!
Very pleased to see another budding Nordic tourer join our site!

Your Alpine skiing background will help you somewhat, but Nordic skiing is very different.

My first bit of advice is to get out on the snow - a lot. The simplest and least expensive way to develop Nordic skiing skills is to tour in a flexible Nordic boot and rack up many hours and miles. IMHO, the essence of all traditional Nordic skiing is about constantly striding and shifting your balance from ski to ski- on all terrain and snow.

So no matter what- get a binding slapped on those skis- buy comfortable touring boots and get out there. I know where you live and am familiar with the terrain and the forest type. I know what I would use to tour in that context and it would be distance-oriented (i.e. XCd). Most important is for you to setup to just jump out the door and tour!

There is no question that to begin with you are going to feel more comfortable and in control on hills in a modern plastic Telemark boot. This may help you learn Nordic-downhill/telemark technique- or it may hinder you. Most Telemark skiers will advise learning to Telemark on modern Telemark equipment at a lift-served hill. I followed this advice when I made a decision to become a "Telemark skier". This worked for me in that specific context- I was ripping my way down the mountain in no time!

But- Telemark equipment is really not ideal for most of the touring opportunities in my local backcountry. My local backcountry is best enjoyed by those with a passion for crushing miles on all terrain and on perfect snow. (Yes- one can go out to a hill and just do up-down yo-yo laps- and I do that quite often- especially with my younger children).

IMO- My local backcountry touring is best explored, enjoyed and appreciated on light, flexible and fast distance-oriented equipment- what North Americans would call "backcountry-cross-country skiing" (BC-XC)- what the Scandanavians call "fjellskiing" (i.e. Nordic ski touring/hiking in the "mountains").

I love hiking and skiing in forested hilly/mountainous terrain- it is one of my three passions in life.

Here is where I ran into a problem- I personally discovered that I simply could not use the "Telemark" technique I was using in Telemark equipment with my BC-XC gear- it simply did not work for me. I found that I had to completely re-wire my mind and body to tour on hilly terrain with my BC-XC equipment. This required me to actually stop going to the ski hill in Telemark boots. Now- I may well be the exception- not the rule!

When it comes to Nordic-downhill skiing you will have to figure out which pathway works for you!

Part of this is also whether the telemark turn serves the tour, or whether the tour serves the telemark turn. Plenty of Northeastern backcountry skiers are content to tour on Telemark equipment because they are primarily in search of downhill skiing. And I certainly grab my T4s when I want to do laps and rip and charge!

What length are your skis? And- what are your height and weight?
zgadow20 wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:46 pm

SUMMARY:

-What bindings do you think would pair well with my new 80mm-58mm-69mm BC XC skis in order to comfortably tour moderate distances while still providing enough control to learn gentle telemark turns? Should I mount them at the center of balance of the ski or some other spot? what tools will I need?
I have no personal experience with this ski. What is the camber and flex like? That 20mm of sidecut may give the impression that they will turn, but the camber and flex pattern of that ski will determine how it performs.

Knowing the terrain and forest cover you will be skiing through I would suggest a 3-pin binding so that you can try a wide range of boots (i.e. from XC to Telemark). If you want a heel cable- I suggest a removable one so you can enjoy the flexible bliss of XC skiing without one.

Mounting point? For Nordic touring? Have you contacted Alpina and asked them what their mounting recommendation is?

Mounting pins/bar at balance-point (BP) is a XC mounitng point- the ski will feel perfectly balanced when you are striding.

When XC skiing-striding (not skating):
- moving the mounting forward of BP will increase grip and reduce glide.
- moving the mounting point aft of BP will reduce grip and increase glide.

When downhill skiing...
Mounting for downhill skiing is much more complex- especially with the complex camber-rocker-sidecut and flex pattern of many modern touring skis. For example- I have a Nordic touring ski (Asnes Storetind Carbon) that my traditional mind would have mounted forward of BP, but the manufacturer has designed that ski to be mounted with pins at BP. I went with their advice and am blown away with the Nordic-downhill performance of this ski!

On traditional Nordic skis (i.e. camber, no rocker, and straightforward sidecut)- downhill skiing:
- moving the mounting point forwards of BP allow one to more easily pressure the tip and therefore improve turn initiation (the advantage of this greatly depends on technique and snow conditions).
- moving the mounting point aft of BP is traditionally thought to facilitate tip rise and flotation in deep soft snow. (This has become moot with tip-rockered skis).

I would suggest that the camber and flex pattern of that ski will be a much greater factor in their downhill performance than whether you mount at BP or not. In other words- if that ski has a lot of camber and stiffness/resistance underfoot, it will be hard to pressure and bend into a turn no matter where you mount it.
-What type of boots would you choose to match a ski setup like this? Would I regret buying plastic boots after a few miles of touring? Would leather boots provide enough support for a beginner to learn basic telemark turns?
Again a 3-pin binding will allow you try the widest range of boot options.
- Would it be a better idea to set up these new skis for touring only (using leather boots and possibly NNN-BC bindings, given that they are relatively skinny and have a good amount of camber) and plan to get a second pair of wider skis later on to learn telemark? In other words, am I being unrealistically optimistic in thinking I can use the BC XC skis and basic 3 pin bindings to learn telemark turns?
I personally prefer NNNBC for the majority of the backcountry Nordic ski touring I do in my local backcountry. But it is important for me to emphasize that my start with NNNBC was a result of me being unhappy with the durability of modern 3-pin BC-XC boots- not because I was unhappy with the XC performance of BC-XC 3-pin boots. I was perfectly happy with 3-pin boots and bindings for BC-XCd touring in the past- though I do now prefer NNNBC.

I know that many disagree- but I do not find any downhill advantage to a basic 3-pin binding over NNNBC- when using a soft, flexible BC-XC boot. (In fact, I find I have more downhill stability and control with the NNNBC versions of most of the BC-XC boots (e.g. Alpina Alaska/Fischer BCX6/Rossi BCX6).

BUT this is important- currently there are no downhill-oriented boots that you can buy for the NNNBC platform- even the most supportive NNNBC boots are distance/XC oriented.

NN, 75mm, 3-pin bindings still offer the widest range of boot options from soft XC boots to rigid Telemark boots.

I use both NNNBC and 3-pin NN bindings for my local backcountry skiing. You may well end up with both eventually- but, 3-pin NN bindings will do it all.
- How much is my alpine skiing experience going to benefit me in learning to telemark ski?
It will definitely help you in general, and if you are a strong Alpine skier you will be ripping on modern Telemark equipment in no time. Whether you can easily transfer to downhill skiing on BC-XCd equipment seems to be a different experience for everyone. I am a firm believer that downhill skiing on light, flexible XC equipment requires a technique that is not necessarily learned on modern Telemark equipment- but not everyone agrees!

Re: Looking for some advice as a new XCD skier

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:12 am
by Johnny
lilcliffy wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:24 am
I know that many disagree- I find I have more downhill stability and control with the NNNBC versions of most of the BC-XC boots (e.g. Alpina Alaska/Fischer BCX6/Rossi BCX6).
Ahhhhh...! I couldn't agree more...

It's always such a refreshing feeling everytime we hear a bit of pure wisdom... 8-)

Remember this kids: As Lilcliffy said, There is MORE DOWNHILL STABILITY AND CONTROL with the NNNBC versions of most of the BC-XC boots. Always remember this, no matter what hippies or yupies are saying... This is the most precious secret advice about XCD... Remember this, always.

Re: Looking for some advice as a new XCD skier

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:28 pm
by lowangle al
Johnny wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 10:12 am
lilcliffy wrote:
Wed Aug 07, 2019 9:24 am
I know that many disagree- I find I have more downhill stability and control with the NNNBC versions of most of the BC-XC boots (e.g. Alpina Alaska/Fischer BCX6/Rossi BCX6).
Ahhhhh...! I couldn't agree more...

It's always such a refreshing feeling everytime we hear a bit of pure wisdom... 8-)

Remember this kids: As Lilcliffy said, There is MORE DOWNHILL STABILITY AND CONTROL with the NNNBC versions of most of the BC-XC boots. Always remember this, no matter what hippies or yupies are saying... This is the most precious secret advice about XCD... Remember this, always.
I can't disagree because I never tried it. If it is true though that means I'd be even more amazinger :lol:

Re: Looking for some advice as a new XCD skier

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:18 pm
by fisheater
Al,
I believe what Johnny and Gareth are saying is true. Mike K did a video showing the flex on an Alpina Alaska NN, 3 pin model. That toepiece was mighty flexible. I was not impressed. However I can bend my USGI, and am very impressed what I can accomplish with my Alpina Alaska NNN. I really like those fancy Andrew 3 pin leather boots, but unless I start touring for turns for longer distances the Aluco Ski March while heavy performs well. For skinny skis the Alpina Alaska and NNN handle it.
If you stay centered on an NNN binding (and of course the ski as well) you can bend a fairly stiff ski. Now all my experience was on light covered cobble strewn trails. It was a bad snow year for me. Your experience in deep heavy, or chopped up snow may be different. However my local trails have steep short drops and banked turns carved by mountain bikes. I had no trouble making Telemark turns on those banked turns with NNN. I was faster because the boots were lighter and offered better range of movement for kick and glide, although nobody would mistake me for a trained track skier.
I've come a long way in the Nordic world since meeting you guys. From a you only traverse to go downhill guy, to a guy that enjoys skiing trails. I'll always be sniffing out the downhills ;)!

Re: Looking for some advice as a new XCD skier

Posted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 3:39 pm
by lowangle al
I don't doubt it at all Bob, there is enough slop in a leather boot 3pin binding combo that it wouldn't be hard to improve upon. If the boots were as stout as something like the old Merril Ultra I could see nnn bc superior. I guess the beauty is you don't need such a beefy boot.

My thinking is that it is weight that turns the ski so boot and bindings shouldn't matter. That is true in great conditions, but as conditions get worse I need a more solid connection foot to boot, boot to binding, binding to ski to keep things on track. The lighter the gear the greater the chance that the unexpected will send you flying, and that's a chance I can't take at my age and the speeds I like to ski.

Re: Looking for some advice as a new XCD skier

Posted: Sat Aug 10, 2019 9:54 pm
by fisheater
Al, I am in complete agreement with what happens when conditions are less than ideal. I hurt myself twice last season. I mounted some old alpine skis with a set of Vice bindings, I'll pair them with my T-4's at the ski hill when conditions are less than ideal. Most people would have learned after getting stitched up, but not me, I had to relocate a couple ribs as well.
I totally understand why you like the T-2's and Vectors. My terrain isn't as big, so I can go lighter. However I plan on using heavier equipment in marginal conditions. I'm older, a little heavier, and not nearly as bullet proof as I once was. I don't like to admit it to myself, but I better, turning things down a notch beats the heck out of injury that takes me out of the game.

Re: Looking for some advice as a new XCD skier

Posted: Sun Aug 11, 2019 11:18 am
by lowangle al
I've pretty much retired the T2s in favor of the T4s Bob. They don't have that ski boot feel, having full ROM of the ankle yet they hold an edge like a plastic boot, for me anyway. My wife loves her T4s for touring but I think her DH performance was better in T2s.