bgregoire wrote: I've got a question for you, not about skis but rather about the state of skiing in Norway today. I'm wondering if there is still a thriving subculture into pulling off nice descents and teleturns using basic nordic backcountry ski gear like fjellskis and leather boots (Varg, Crispi, etc.). I've seen old videos of Norwegians cranking it like there is no tomorrow but I am wondering if this is still the case today....or have the disciplines further split themselves, with basic fjallskiing with NNN-BC on one side and full-on Alpine touring (non-tele) on the other. Whats it like? What in for the future of oldskool telemark touring where it all began?
Har det bra Crister.
Thanks for the kind words, we really appreciate it!
THAT is a really interesting and cool question. It's actually a question I have been researching quite a bit myself, as I perform skiing in so many different ways myself.
In short, the younger generations tend to be involved mainly in alpine skiing and alpine touring, as "old-school" telemark as an art form (I believe it to be both a sport and an art form) has been dying for some years among the general public.
In the subcultures that span out from The Norwegian Trekking Association, and some Mountaineering associations- and clubs, there is still a lot of telemark - but mainly with plastic boots.
So to give you the short answer, yes, the disciplines have further split.
"Old-school" telemark is somewhat of a small genre of BC-skiing and probably most common amongst those who grow up with BC-skiing, cabin life, being in the mountains at the family cabin and stuff like that. Also, at Voss, where we have our offices, Telemark is big. I would say that the westcoast of Norway, some areas in the middle of Norway and some areas in the north is over-represented in terms telemark skiing.
I do believe that the disciplines one choose or rather tend to learn, is very connected to where in Norway you grow up and the culture surrounding you when you grow up.
As with the rest of the world, big city life and less outdoor activities for the benefit of "screen-time" are the new "normal" today. But of course, there are exceptions.
There is still a decent subculture among the most hardcore skiers and mountaineers, as most of them grow up with telemark skiing, mountaineering, cross country skiing, and alpine climbing. Especially in the climbing and mountaineering community, telemark is still favorized. Myself, I grew up with a dad and a granddad who were incredible skiers. I competed in telemark for some years, before I ended up competing in Super-G and Downhill. But my basic skiing technique comes from skiing with leather boots, long BC-skis and with Rottefella Riva and Chili bindings.
My dad and my girlfriend's dad would probably be some of the best skiers I know, and they both charge pretty hard with leather boots and Bc-skis (My father in law actually raced some young world cup skiers just last week - and kept up with them!).
What I believe to be the case, is that in some areas and in some subcultures, "old-school" telemark will live forever. From those communities I know, there is really just one option for longer trips, skiing with family and the typical Easter traditions where we ski around for a week or so in the mountains - and that is BC skis with 75mm bindings and leather boots. That will probably last for years to come, but mainly amongst those who grow up with skiing.
For everyone else, NNN BC bindings seem to be the easier and more simple solution for touring skis, BC-skis and for "mountain skis".
It is also a fact that less and fewer people grow up skiing, and that more and more people only do alpine skiing in resorts. That is probably the reason why a lot of them will choose alpine touring gear if they decide to travel backcountry. Even the military is doing less skiing than ever, it is basically just the special forces and the elite divisions that do a decent amount of skiing.
But have no fear, telemark is growing again. BC-skiing, skiing in general and being outdoors is getting more and more popular. This year we sold more BC-Skis than in a long time, so I would say there is a positive upbringing. But, as with everything else, there will be conjectures and fluctuations - meaning that for periods of time the interest will switch between increasing or decreasing.
I would say we have these (general) types of skiers today:
-Those who grew up with the skiingculture and spending lots of family time in the mountains. They are usually good skiers and can manage most disciplines. They choose "Old-School" telemark setups because it gives them most pleasure, and they also spend a lot of time using alpine touring gear for more demanding skiing and alpine/freeride skis in the resort.
-Mountaineers - they see skis as a tool and can handle alpine touring gear and alpine skis as well as classic cross country skis. Some of them are telemarketers too.
-Those who grow up competing and skiing one discipline, they tend to keep to their thing. (Alpine skiers, XC-skiers, Freeriders etc.). I believe it is mostly the XC-skiers in Norway that does any BC-skiing, probably most often with NNN bindings.
Freestyle skiers, for example, keep sticking with skiing in resorts. Why? - I do not know
-Those who only ski for a couple of times each year. They keep to the resorts and barely ever goes into the backcountry. They never learn to ski properly either.
Yeah. I rambled on for a while here. I hope it makes sense somehow?
Crister @ Åsnes