I'm in the grumpy old man, dyed in the wool category. Probably somewhere between 2 & 3,000 days teaching, racing, playing, patrolling on teles - which is a bit hard to believe really, where did all that time go?
I skied exclusively on 3 pins until the early 90's when I moved to plastic boots and was reluctantly forced to go to cables.
I still ski patrol on teles - well did until my current Garmont EnerG exploded the bellows the other day, ripped the middle bend apart. Bummer.
I like a relatively narrow ski (currently Volkl Racetiger 76mm underfoot, fabulous on packed or hard, bit of work in soft but anything turns in that so who cares), soft flex boot (was Garmont EnerG with I guess a couple of hundred days on them) and absolutely the least "active" binding possible (currently 7tm with the powerbar removed - work requires release bindings, play does not).
I always found the Garmonts to have the nicest flex in the past so am guessing the Scott might still be the softest out there?
I've stayed clear of NTN because I just can't believe I'd like the feel of them. I see so many people on tippy-toes on them and hear so much about how "active" they are that I reckon they'd feel like some diabolical marriage of the worst of AT and Telemark - heavy surrogate alpine system half holding your heel down but with the disadvantage of a free heel. I'm not averse to alpine (also used to instruct that, and do it increasingly these days when my knees decide it's time for my back to have a turn at hurting) but I like tele to feel like tele, and alpine to feel like alpine. I started teleing in the first place because I hated the feel of AT gear.
My ideal setup would be a plastic boot (for waterproofness) with a flex like a well used leather boot, the binding "activity" of a three pin but the edging stiffness of an alpine boot. Oh, and it should weigh the same as my skate boots To date impossible I know. But I'm interested to hear any thoughts and suggestions before dropping a heap of coin on new gear.
I'm intrigued by the idea of the Bishop BMF (not so keen on the weight though), it looks like it might transfer some of the edging torque from the heel through to the ski, rather than relying totally on the toe and bellows. Not sure if that's the case?
Any comments on the comparison of boot flex and feel NTN vs 75mm?
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The Voile Switchback (straight up, NOT THE X2) is pretty neutral with good edging too and the free pivot.
I really don't know what I'm talking about and I'm not sure how much out of the loop you are. I'm also a bit confused, does it have to releasable?
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Have you tried NNN-BC and leathers? With the right boot, you can get almost as much edge control and activeness as NTN, but with the smooth-and-cool leather feel... 1,000,000 times more fun than Excursions and T4s...
- Never trust a guy who recommends T4s and pins
"And if you like to risk your neck, we'll boom down Sutton in old Quebec..."
It lived up (down) to most of my expectations - heavy, horrendous heel hold down restricting technique to that allowed by the equipment and a regression back toward the rear foot feel provided by telemarking on AT gear. Yuck.
I was pleasantly surprised by the improved edging rigidity, but not worth gaining that at the expense of everything else - I'd rather work a bit harder at edging than lose the feel of the tele.
Thanks for the pointer to the Spike bindings - they look interesting, although the fact that there are no prices listed anywhere is a bit concerning! I'll make enquiries.
I think Scott Excursions are too light for me in resort, and too heavy for touring - I pro-patrol and like a bit of performance inbounds (to give context, in a past life I won USA, Australian, Swiss, French & Europa Cup championships, 7th overall at Worlds). Probably will go for Scott Voodoo for resort as it sounds like Scott are still the softest flex out there. Touring I'm happy on quite a bit lighter.
I never really liked teleing on NNN BC - the boots never quite flexed right. Maybe that's changed in the 10 years or so since I last tried them. I did enjoy them for super light skate/touring - I made a pair of track width skis with steel edge & sidecut one side, straight plastic the other. In firm conditions skate out, swap to steel inside edges and tele down. Awesome fun until someone thought they were rubbish and threw them out.
Can anyone tell me if the flex of the NTN Voodoo and the 75mm Voodoo are the same or different? If they are the same I'd be tempted to try the NTN version with the perhaps the Spike NT.
The search continues.
Find a pair of scarpa F3s, and make yourself a telemark tech system (TTS; i.e., dynafit type toes with cables) with a very neutral pivot position and softer springs. Check out Dostie's great articles on the nuts and bolts of this type of system on earnyourturns.com. B&D ski gear's tele adaptor plate is relatively inexpensive (~$100 for the pair) and has some neutral pivot options that work with voile springs. You can even find inexpensive used dynafit toe pieces on skimo.com. Many folks think of TTS as being super active, but that is not necessarily the case - it depends on how you set it up, and the variations are nearly limitless. The edging on TTS setups is far superior to any other tele system I've skied - your toes are held very tightly! The touring ability of these setups is the best there is - totally free pivot right at your toes (not way in front) and you're only lifting the boot, not the whole binding. Plus these set ups are light!
I was hesitant for a while about TTS, being somewhat of a purist. But I have no regrets, TTS is fantastic. For reference, I ski either TTS for backcountry tele or voile 3-pins (no cables) with T4s for adventure nordic (a plastic-booted variant of XCD), and I can still tele on both - TTS is "real" enough not to spoil my technique!
Binding wise, If you can scrounge up a pair, the Linkens were very, very neutral, but did have good edge control being a plate binding. Original Bishops could be set-up to be pretty neutral, as could hammerheads.
What NTN setup did you try? Just like 75mm, different bindings within the system have different feel/activity. Green or white springs on a Freeride is actually a very neutral set-up, but the boot choice makes a big difference. On the softer flexing side, you should be looking at the Scarpa TX-Pro or if you can find one, the retired TX.
- Nick BC
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