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
-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!