XCD - the past and future of skiing?

This is the World Famous TelemarkTalk / TelemarkTips Forum, by far the most dynamic telemark and backcountry skiing discussion board on the world wide web. We have fun here, come on in and be a part of it.
User avatar
MartinF
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:51 am

XCD - the past and future of skiing?

Post by MartinF » Sat Mar 21, 2020 9:40 am

Strange new thoughts, sparked by the climate and the virus...

I'm wondering whether XCD is more than just the past of skiing, ranging back to the days before resorts with lifts. Given what I have long been observing about the reliability of snowfall in the European Alps, and in the additional light of the substantial economic damage caused to resorts by the corona virus, I can see more and more of the lower resorts closing over the next few years. It just won't make sense to maintain lifts for periodic use during colder spells - when the big money from the vacation skiers who need to plan trips in advance stops flowing in.

Of course, the higher-altitude resorts will continue to offer reliable conditions for the time being - but they are bound to become more and more expensive as the average snow limit retreats uphill. In the end, it's likely that any such resort will be as pricey as St. Moritz is today - i.e. beyond the means of average skiers.

So will downhill skiing return to the place it came from? Will it once again be the reward for a climb? Will cross country and downhill merge back into each other for the broad majority of people who still want to ski?

User avatar
rongon
Posts: 95
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2014 10:09 pm
Location: Lower Ice Coast
Ski style: Wanderer - XCD, telemark - Never have alpined...
Favorite Skis: Fischer Rebound, Madshus Annum, Voile Vector BC, Dynastar Legend 3800, Dynastar Cham 97 HM
Favorite boots: Asolo Extreme, Crispi CXP
Occupation: I work to live

Re: XCD - the past and future of skiing?

Post by rongon » Sat Mar 21, 2020 9:59 am

I can only speak from personal experience. My closest ski hills are in the Catskills, which have been really snow-deprived lately. Unless I want to drive for 3 or more hours, I have to wait patiently for a good snowfall, then pounce on conditions while they're good. You snooze, you no ski -- unless you pay lotsa money for lift tickets.

I have several 'XCD' setups of the various xcD/XCd etc. types ready to go for where the snow falls. If the snow is on some high plateau with gently rolling terrain, then I have a setup to get fun out of that (XC optimized for trailbreaking). If the snow is good for steeper skiing, I have a setup for that. If the approaches are going to be long, I have a lighter but still downhill-oriented setup for that. I figure the cost of all these setups is no more than the cost of a few years' worth of season tickets or frequent skier card+multiple days riding lifts. And besides, the resorts near me got old. Scrape noises, weekend crowds... Pheh. I'd much rather choose the setup-of-the-day and go wandering in the snowy woods. I doubt the majority of skiers would enjoy all the wandering for only a few turns, but it looks like more and more younger skiers are doing just that, and on light AT gear too. Strange, but true.

I was out on the Bolton Valley Nordic Backcountry trails on a great powder day a few weeks ago (hard to imagine now). I was one of only a few skiers on tele gear. The majority were on AT rigs. The younger the skiers were, the more likely to be on AT. The older, the more likely to be on tele. I was following the fish-scale uptracks of a young-ish guy on Vector BCs with tech bindings. He was getting out of his skis to switch between ski and tour modes, but was so used to it he could do it in just seconds. I guess AT can work for xcD, but it takes patience and practice.

Anyhow, I think what you're talking about is already happening, at least a little. Will it be the future of skiing? I don't know. Interesting to ponder, though.
--

User avatar
Petetheswede
Posts: 46
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:28 pm
Location: Southern Sweden
Ski style: Touring with turns
Favorite Skis: Åsnes Gamme, Ingstad
Favorite boots: Lundhags Guide BC
Occupation: Healer

Re: XCD - the past and future of skiing?

Post by Petetheswede » Sat Mar 21, 2020 10:18 am

I agree xcd is the future. We are discussing closing the lifts even in super liberal Sweden whereas of course no one can, or should, stop lonely xcding. I have also come across a few people when Im ranting religiosly on the glory of narrow skis with Nnn-BC bindings who come from a genuine alpine background and got tired of lifts and the same rides all the time but still have neither the money nor the dedication to delve into the world of tech bindings and avalanche terrain.

I think all these people would be happiest with xcd.

The way I see it, if you dont want to deal with avalanche gear, knowledge (beyond common sense) and the real risk getting buried you really dont need anything burlier than Nnn-BC for Swedish backcountry as most of the time the terrain is alpine and usually very mellow.

Cheers
Petter

User avatar
MartinF
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:51 am

Re: XCD - the past and future of skiing?

Post by MartinF » Sat Mar 21, 2020 11:46 am

Yes... at 59, I still love bombing down steep groomers. But I'm getting increasingly allergic to everything else that happens in resorts. And by and by, I have grown somewhat uncomfortable about resort skiing for environmental reasons.

Alpine touring? I'm too spontaneous and hence too much of a loner to engage in an activity most safely pursued in groups (or even with a guide).

Factors outside myself... the climate and the virus, as I already mentioned. But there is also a growing sense of ecological awareness among the locals in resorts I am familiar with, especially in the one I know best. Eight years ago, they all tapped their private savings to invest in some costly lift improvements. But last year, their protests stopped a huge investment project that would have connected their slopes to a nearby 'skiing arena', greatly increasing variety and forseeable popularity.

User avatar
treehugger
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:08 am

Re: XCD - the past and future of skiing?

Post by treehugger » Sat Mar 21, 2020 12:31 pm

I'll join in. Not like I'm going anywhere.

Can't see resort skiers heading into the BC even with resorts closed. My perception on the popularity of AT gear is driven by side-country resort access rather than any major movement to the BC. If the resorts go so will the people.

XCD on the other hand is the natural choice for the growing number of people looking to enjoy wilderness in the winter. Low aspect downhills on skinny skis provide an adrenaline rush without the extreme climbing and avalanche danger. I think of it like longboarding when the surf is small. Picture Dewey Weber, in the 60's, doing a drop knee turn next time you drop a knee. (Surfing in my youth continues to be my core influence even tho I live in the mountains)

Not sure it is a trend but I know some of my spit board friends have been taking up xc as they evolve from earning turns to enjoying touring the BC. Go for the turns but come back for the scenery. Coming from snowboarding AT gear isn't an option. I haven't taken my board outside the resorts (now closed) since getting my new XC skis.

User avatar
Petetheswede
Posts: 46
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:28 pm
Location: Southern Sweden
Ski style: Touring with turns
Favorite Skis: Åsnes Gamme, Ingstad
Favorite boots: Lundhags Guide BC
Occupation: Healer

Re: XCD - the past and future of skiing?

Post by Petetheswede » Sat Mar 21, 2020 12:45 pm

I totally agree on the longboard parable as I also surf and live in Sweden where the surf is always small. There is so much fun to be had in the backyard if you know how to look! Today for example we had a moderate onshore wind magically producing surfable conditions in our local lake using the XCd variety of watercraft, a 14 foot race sup!

User avatar
MartinF
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:51 am

Re: XCD - the past and future of skiing?

Post by MartinF » Sat Mar 21, 2020 4:41 pm

treehugger wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 12:31 pm
Can't see resort skiers heading into the BC even with resorts closed.
Perhaps not many, proportionately. But still quite a few in absolute figures... at least, that's my prediction.

You're right in the sense that most resort skiers aren't particularly keen. It's not very easy to start an in-depth conversation about skiing at a resort. But real enthusiasts can be found there, too. They seem few and far between given the crowds that don't care all that much. But (say) 10% of the total would still constitute quite a large number.

(By contrast, incidentally, imagine a crowd of mountain-bikers talking about anything except mountain-biking.)

User avatar
treehugger
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:08 am

Re: XCD - the past and future of skiing?

Post by treehugger » Sat Mar 21, 2020 7:43 pm

MartinF wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 4:41 pm
treehugger wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 12:31 pm
Can't see resort skiers heading into the BC even with resorts closed.
You're right in the sense that most resort skiers aren't particularly keen. It's not very easy to start an in-depth conversation about skiing at a resort... But (say) 10% of the total would still constitute quite a large number.
I've noticed many resort skiers when confronted with those using AT or tele gear are very interested in discussing getting into the BC but are more likely to ask about getting to terrain in-bounds that requires long traverses or hiking. But this likely has a lot to do with my local mountain not the general population.

We already have a lot of skiers that head into the BC after tracking out the resorts. Big dumps mean it can take many days to get the whole mountain open. This also allows time for snow to get more stable and safer. If everyone tried to get to it "before the crowds" it would be a disaster.

I couldn't imagine 1% of resort crowds in BC let alone 10%. Fortunately there is very little parking in winter so it won't happen here.

User avatar
MartinF
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:51 am

Re: XCD - the past and future of skiing?

Post by MartinF » Sun Mar 22, 2020 5:09 am

treehugger wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 7:43 pm
I've noticed many resort skiers when confronted with those using AT...
As a predominantly Alpine and resort skier, I find AT superficially intriguing... but less so on closer inspection. To get some groomer-like adrenaline to flow on the downhills, I would need to ascend into the danger zone first. But safety precautions like going in a group, perhaps even with a guide, put me off.

The main reason I am switching more and more attention to XCD is that I can get a decent challenge on NNN BC and 75mm gear without entering avalanche territory. Added to which, I don't have to deal with the constant mode changes that AT gear would demand at lower altitudes. (Incidentally, I could have acquired used lightweight AT bindings and boots for my most recent skis without breaking the bank - I had offers that were 'only' about € 125 more expensive than new 75mm trappings in total!).

It's like bikes. In the hills and lower mountains around here, I can have real fun on a 100 mm hardtail or a 120 mm dual suspension bike. But throw heavy metal at our trails and you lose the skill factor almost entirely.

Question is: How many people share that kind of mentality?

I still think that 10% is about right... but on closer inspection, I can see why you need to subtract quite a lot from that number - because skiing will cease to be so much of a family activity. Resorts give family members the opportunity to do very diverse things while remaining in fairly close proximity to each other. If (when) the lifts disappear, that factor will no longer apply. The real enthusiasts will find it hard to persuade their families to join them for a vacation in the mountains. Many will lose the domestic debate - and effectively give up skiing.

User avatar
treehugger
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2019 11:08 am

Re: XCD - the past and future of skiing?

Post by treehugger » Sun Mar 22, 2020 11:53 am

MartinF wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 5:09 am

The main reason I am switching more and more attention to XCD is that I can get a decent challenge on NNN BC and 75mm gear without entering avalanche territory.

I can see why you need to subtract quite a lot from that number - because skiing will cease to be so much of a family activity. Resorts give family members the opportunity to do very diverse things while remaining in fairly close proximity to each other.
Yes I would agree that skinny skis can make moderate slopes exciting and the popularity of ski resorts relies on the support of families. My point is that AT gear may look attractive to resort skiers, but XCD is actually more suited to the recreational skier and family adventuring into the BC.

This is all academic. Ski resorts are more prepared than most to weather shut downs. I hope it goes without saying that there is plenty of other things to worry about. But my newfound love of XC skiing has coincided with the need to isolate and for that I am thankful. I guess I needed to curb my enthusiasm because after a week in deep snow I have a mild case of frostbite. There are more dangers than avalanches in the BC.

Post Reply