Good telemark ski and binding for beginner?

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
adrianpottinger
XCD Enthusiast
XCD Enthusiast
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:15 am

Good telemark ski and binding for beginner?

Post by adrianpottinger » Fri Nov 13, 2015 1:15 pm

Could anyone recommend/advise on a good beginners telemark ski and binding or what I should be looking for and why for learning to telemark on the piste?

I am learning to telemark ski. I'd say I was an intermediate cross country touring skier but relatively poor at going downhill on my Fischer E109 touring skis. I've skied several self guided hut-to-hut tours in Norway and Sweden but my enjoyment of the tour is being somewhat coloured by my lack of skill and confidence descending. I have been learning to telemark on the piste in hired gear but would now like to buy some of my own. The choice appears endless. I would like to buy something that may at least work with me rather than against me at this early stage. I don't imagine my progress will be very quick. I'd like to buy something that suits me now whilst learning on the piste. If I progress and need/want different gear for different conditions I'll make a change.

My ski touring kit is Fischer BCX 675 boots, 203cm Fischer E109 waxing skis with 7TM Power Tour bindings

I bought Scarpa T4 plastic touring boots to use with my hired telemark skis.

In a fit of enthusiasm I also bought 195cm Madshus Epoch skis (99-68-84mm) thinking I might be able to handle them better and whilst they are an improvement I am still unable to replicate the limited telemark ability I have on the hired 'downhill' style skis on my own Epochs. I may have gone too narrow. I have been interested to read reviews of wider XCD skis such as Rossignol BC 125s (125-90-114mm), Voile Vector BC (121-96-110) or Fisher S Bound 125s (125-95-120mm) but don't want to buy yet another pair of skis that are currently beyond my ability. How do these differ from the 'downhill' or AT skis I have been looking at on the web?

Other possibly relevant info: I'm 6'4" tall, 184lbs (194cm, 83kg) and not a natural skier.

Thank you in advance for your comments.

MikeK

Re: Good telemark ski and binding for beginner?

Post by MikeK » Fri Nov 13, 2015 1:41 pm

Take my advice with a grain of salt, because I'm more or less in a similar situation as you. I don't, however, have the on-piste experience with tele gear.

I suppose the main reason I'm not resorting to piste tele gear is because I have the same feeling I'd do the same as you experience. I'd be able to ski, on piste, on the plastic boots and modern skis at least somewhat competently and then I'd take away very little of what I learned to go back to leather boots and xc skis.

Endless people on the internet have told me to quit wasting my time and just go ski at resorts with plastic boots and fat skis... I haven't yet though, and I'm still learning and still having fun when I ski.

For BC XC skiing, what you have is absolutely fine. In fact you probably did make a good choice by going to the Epoch, mainly because it is a very soft and forgiving ski.

My suggestion would be to take those skis out with the T4s and just flounder a bit. When you get some nice snow (like soft powder), take them out with the leathers and flounder some more. You don't need to climb giant mountains to do this... just go up and down some small hills.. if you get out of control, dump it and try again... or find a hill that isn't as steep.

Maybe if you ski in plastic for many years you'll get good enough where you don't rely on the boot stiffness so much for balance and you'll think that skiing in leathers is similar, but I don't see that... maybe? But I think the paths for learning to ski BC XC and telemark have diverged.

So do you want to buy resort gear because you like skiing at the resort or because you want to be a better skier on your other gear? If the answer is the latter, just take the T4s and Epoch to the resort and be prepared to struggle a bit. Then once you get them on soft snow they will feel oh so much better.

I can't suggest to you any tele binding but the regular 3 pin. That's all you should need for the gear you have and for BC touring, at least as a inexperienced skier...

User avatar
connyro
XCD Guide
XCD Guide
Posts: 786
Joined: Mon Jan 26, 2015 12:46 pm

Re: Good telemark ski and binding for beginner?

Post by connyro » Fri Nov 13, 2015 2:22 pm

What bindings do you have on the Epochs?

MikeK asks a good question:
MikeK wrote:So do you want to buy resort gear because you like skiing at the resort or because you want to be a better skier on your other gear?
You can certainly learn to telemark ski on the Epochs with T4's, but that's not an ideal setup for resort skiing.

User avatar
dnt_upton
XCD Pinhead
XCD Pinhead
Posts: 129
Joined: Thu Oct 01, 2015 10:00 pm
Location: Drink Moxie

Re: Good telemark ski and binding for beginner?

Post by dnt_upton » Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:29 pm

Going to the resort is a great way to learn how to make telemark turns. As with any sport, the more you do it, the better you get.

The gear I'd recommend would depend on the terrain you want to ski. If you want to ski 30 degree and steeper slopes, you'd want different gear than if you want to tour through rolling hills/meadows.

User avatar
lilcliffy
XCD KNIGHT
XCD KNIGHT
Posts: 2218
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada
Ski style: Nordic backcountry touring
Favorite Skis: Asnes Ingstad BC; Asnes Gamme 54 BC; Asnes Storetind Carbon
Favorite boots: Alpina Alaska; Scarpa T4
Occupation: Forestry Professional
Instructor at Maritime College of Forest Technology
Husband, father, farmer and logger

Re: Good telemark ski and binding for beginner?

Post by lilcliffy » Fri Nov 13, 2015 4:35 pm

I am not sure if I completely understand what you want to do...

You are learning, on-piste, using your T-4s? What ski and binding have you been using with the T-4?

Regardless- I am not very surprised that you are underwhelmed with the performance of the Epoch on-piste. The Epoch is a single-cambered xcountry ski- designed to offer a balance between xcountry K&G with moderate downhill performance- on fresh, backcountry snow. (I have both the Epoch and the Annum in my quiver, and personally see the Annum as a fatter version of the same design) I have tried the Epoch/10th Mtn, and the Annum/Guide on-piste with similar results- underwhelming. I don't find either of these skis are rigid and strong enough to give high-performance on dense/hard, and/or groomed surface (when I go to the groomer, I want to burn a strip off the mtn side). I am not saying that the Epoch cannot or should not be used on-piste- I am just saying that snow surface will not bring out the strengths of that ski. The Epoch and the Annum both shine in their element- backcountry Nordic touring.

Do the skis you have been learning on have a parabolic sidecut? It may be that the skis you have been testing are inherently easier to turn than the Epoch. The Epoch and the Annum have quite straight tails- they track like a xcountry ski. I have read many posts of skiers complaining about this in downhill turns. Those that can smoothly turn the Epoch/Annum are using a traditional telemark stride to initiate the turn. With a parabolic sidecut, if the boot/binding is strong enough, you can simply slide the leading ski forward, edge, carve, and the skis will turn. Without that parabolic sidecut, you have to stride your way into that telemark.

I have a lot of miles in the T-4. I use it as a long-distance touring boot, in steep country- with a 75mm-3-pin-cable binding. It is not my favourite long-distance boot- but I do appreciate it on steep and difficult terrain/cover.

I have never used the 7TM binding...quite something. The T-4 with the 7TM should be able to easily steer the Epoch, big time. But it won't change the flex of the Epoch.

That binding at least appears to me as being overkill for the BCX675 boot, and the E109- was there a reason you chose this combination?

IME/IMO the E-109 is a xcountry ski. It is designed first and foremost to offer xcountry K&G performance. IMHO, skiers that can telemark on an E-109, with soft boots, have a different set of skills than those taught at most ski resorts.

I think that the Epoch (and the E-109) is a great ski to learn to telemark on- and here's why:

IMHO, the skills needed to telemark on an E-109, (and to a somewhat lesser extent, the Epoch) can be applied to any Nordic setup- from NNN all the way up to heavy-duty, rigid big-mtn tele. But, I don't think the same can be said for developing skills and muscle memory on rigid big mtn gear. IMHO- there are techniques that are "easy" on rigid boots/bindings and appropriate skis; that cannot be replicated on traditional Nordic/telemark equipment.

IMHO- if you can learn to telemark on an Epoch (or even better an E-109), and a soft boot (not that I would include the T-4 in my list of "soft" boots), I believe you will be able to telemark on anything- as long as the setup is appropriate to the snow/terrain/cover that you are skiing on.

Have you tried the Epoch off-piste, in fresh snow? You might be blown away by how differently they perform.

My primary interest is backcountry skiing- period. My primary interest is long-distance Nordic touring- taking it all in- gentle rolling, terrain, short climbs and runs, to steep climbs and descents. I want to keep my gear as light and flexible as possible.

I too, thought I could improve my telemark skills on-piste, on powerful, boots, bindings. I did not find that this helped me at all. In fact, because of my past Alpine skiing- it gave me habits and muscle memory that simply just doe not work on my preferred traditional Nordic equipment. So- I gave up on learning to tele on-piste, and focused on learning in the environment that I want to ski in.

That being said- you could, on-piste, learn to telemark on light, trad equipment, and then move those skills to the backcountry. Depends on what you want to do...

So my advice is to figure out where you want to ski, how you want to ski. Yeah- you can learn to tele on heavy, rigid, gear...but if you want to tour- do you want to tour in heavy, rigid gear? Many people do. Many, many people do. They willfully trade the flexible performance of a trad Nordic setup for downhill power. If this is you- keep learning on-piste and get an all-mountain ski that will perform well on-piste.

IME/IMO, the Rossi BC125 is another fat single-cambered xcountry ski.

I have never tried the new Fischer S-Bound 125- but if it is just a fatter version of its narrower siblings, it is also a fat, single-cambered xcountry ski- but IMO, with better downhill/climbing performance than the Karhu/Madshus XCD skis.

However, I suspect that the S-125 is aimed at the Vector BC- in which case it could be a different creature than its slimmer siblings.

IME/IMO, on-piste; the Vector BC is going to outperform the Epoch, the Annum, and the BC125. No idea about the S-125.
Cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry.
Unashamed to be a "cross-country type" and love skiing down-hill.

MikeK

Re: Good telemark ski and binding for beginner?

Post by MikeK » Fri Nov 13, 2015 5:25 pm

Aha! Welcome to the odd, weird, doesn't fit in anywhere world of XCD!

Lilcliffy gave a good primer of what those skis are meant for, and what you should expect out of them. They are not quite traditional xc skis melded with a bit of alpine ski in a very lightweight package. They are meant to do it all away from groomed snow... go up, go down, go straight, turn, whatever you might get going through the woods or mountains. As such they are not good at any one thing, and some will be more difficult.

Both skis you have are very much middle ground skis. And going to a wider xcd ski won't add much except more flotation, more climbing traction and maybe a little less camber. The vector is a different beast, but still light enough to be considered. It's on the most extreme end of the spectrum toward dh. On the other end you'd have skis like the e89, Voss, etc which are skinny and very cambered... very good at covering ground on the flats. Something I'd consider for an arctic exped or tooling around lake/farm country.

The boot setup you have is very good as well. The Fischer being the better touring boot, the T4 being the better dh boot. The bindings seem overkill but there's no reason they can't work. Most of your real turning power is going to come from the boot i.e. you'd probably be just as well off with plain pins and the T4 for hilly BC stuff. For a resort, the release might be a plus.

The Epoch is the more dh ski of what you have, and mainly just due to it's camber and flex. It's still a noodle with little damping compared to a resort ski. The Epoch is actually a pretty versatile ski and will work well with your plastic T4 and the leather BCX boots. Obviously one will make it a better tourer and one will make it easier to turn.

The E109 is more of an xc ski, but maybe so close to the Epoch that it might be more advantageous to your quiver to get a more touring oriented ski to match with leather boots. An E99, Rossi BC70, Madshus Glittertind will be closer to a real xc track ski and give you better touring abilities but take a lot of dh attributes away.

As to your REAL question... if it were me, and I wanted to tele at the resort, I'd go right to NTN. It seems every resort binding/boot has it's issues, but if you are riding a lift weight is not a concern, I'd want release and edge control, and that's what those guys do. (But in fact if I was going back to resorts, I'd just go Alpine - the free heel has no advantage if I'm riding a lift)

As for skis... good god, who knows? Probably depends on what kind of conditions you expect to ski in. If if it's wide, icy, hard groomers, then a GS type ski is pretty nice. If you are in the bumps or trees, I'd want something soft and skiddier, still not too wide. If your an epic powder skier, which I suspect not, then there are a whole class of fat waisted skis for that.

User avatar
lilcliffy
XCD KNIGHT
XCD KNIGHT
Posts: 2218
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 7:20 pm
Location: Stanley, New Brunswick, Canada
Ski style: Nordic backcountry touring
Favorite Skis: Asnes Ingstad BC; Asnes Gamme 54 BC; Asnes Storetind Carbon
Favorite boots: Alpina Alaska; Scarpa T4
Occupation: Forestry Professional
Instructor at Maritime College of Forest Technology
Husband, father, farmer and logger

Re: Good telemark ski and binding for beginner?

Post by lilcliffy » Sat Nov 14, 2015 8:11 pm

Oh- and why would you want the Vector BC instead of the standard Vector- if you are going to ski on-piste?
Cross-country AND down-hill skiing in the backcountry.
Unashamed to be a "cross-country type" and love skiing down-hill.

User avatar
oldschool
XCD Enthusiast
XCD Enthusiast
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:35 pm

Re: Good telemark ski and binding for beginner?

Post by oldschool » Sat Nov 14, 2015 9:54 pm

Here's my two cents -

You mention you're not a "natural skier" this to me says you don't feel comfortable or in balance on your skis all or at least most of the time. To me this suggests that beefier gear will help you at least to start. What everyone else has said I think is true - my own experience is that resort skiing has not improved my backcountry skiing much if any. They are two very different things and the skis and boots I use for each are really different, so I guess I'm not that surprised the turns don't translate. That said, time on skis ultimately helps your balance and edge awareness and control. When I ice skate or ski with beginners I encourage them to spend time first standing on one ski with the other picked up and then hop back and forth. This helps you become familiar with your balance wearing skis.

If you resort ski, I would try to find heavier boots than T4s. Buy a pair of downhill tele boards (they don't have to be fat) and Rotefella Cobra R8s - they are not that expensive and will provide a lot of control. Next, get yourself away from the heavily groomed stuff. Find some steeper terrain that has more loose snow or powder and take your time and go one turn at a time. Once you can turn from both sides well, focus on linking turns. Push yourself - I got better on resort terrain by just pushing myself to ski bumps or glades or whatever. What sucks to try to ski, I think, is very packed groomed corduroy that you have difficulty putting an edge into.

I found some good tele boards on Craigslist for resorts and have bought the bindings new, but you can often find the bindings too. The T4s are not quite enough to drive resort skis on much but green squares and some easier blues. Buy the stuff to ski the blacks and then go to the backcountry with a different rig and work that there. Different things but I think the point was made that number of turns = practice and that is something that resorts provide for most of the day. It is a different sort of turn practice for sure and won't translate that well, but you will have fun.

User avatar
Dirtbag
XCD Enthusiast
XCD Enthusiast
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:40 am

Re: Good telemark ski and binding for beginner?

Post by Dirtbag » Sun Nov 15, 2015 2:38 am

Ok any all mountain ski around 90-95 waist with a bit of rocker will Tele great. You might want more boot if your learning. Black Diamond Revert, Volie Vector, bla bla list goes on for ever... Gs Targas, or Chillies, BD O1, 22D Hammerheads something simple like that will work for a binding. Just get out there and work on your form and log miles. If you want to XCD with lighter gear you will need to get the turn down first. I use my BC 125s at the resort all the time when it's soft but when it firms up a bit forget it they lose edge and will get tossed around. No fun for a beginner. The Vector BC is about the only ski that I think would fit the bill for a beginner on piste and XCD outings. Lots of older bargain skis like Karhu Jaks or my old K2 World Pistes are great skis for learning and will serve you as you progress too. just my 2 cents.

User avatar
oggopoggo
XCD Enthusiast
XCD Enthusiast
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:45 pm

Re: Good telemark ski and binding for beginner?

Post by oggopoggo » Sat Nov 21, 2015 3:40 pm

I do a lot of resort skiing with 7TM's but started on 210 cm skinny skis so your situation is quite familiar.
My two bits is just buy a cheap womans alpine ski (softer flex, not too wide) in a short-ish downhill length and get a good tuneup. The rest of your kit can stay the same: familiar feel and easier to transfer your skills. Even after you learn you can save it for deeper powder days, difficult snow and tighter terrain.
Alpine length poles (or shorter) keep your hands and centre of gravity lower,... like the beauties around this web page.

Post Reply