Crash Course: Telemark Ski Gear, Part 1 (Ep.95)


  • Geoff McFetridge (2:42)
  • Dan Abrams (21:25)
  • Paul Forward (30:50)
  • Kristin Sinnott (42:26)

Since we now have to learn how to tele ski and shoot a tele video, we’re crowdsourcing a crash course in telemark technique (see Blister Podcast episode 125) and in telemark gear. So here in Tele Gear Part 1, we’re talking again with the artist, Geoff McFetridge; Flylow Gear co-founder and president, Dan Abrams; and Blister reviewers Paul Forward and Kristin Sinnott.

11 comments on “Crash Course: Telemark Ski Gear, Part 1 (Ep.95)”

  1. First of all. It´s amazing that you get into the tele topic. After 20 years of strictly tele I can give you the following advice:
    Binding: 22designs: no matter if you are going NTN or 75mm… go for 22 designs!!!
    Boots: Scarpas: 75mm …at least T1s and NTNs: TX Pro
    Skis: as a beginner I´d go for your alpine ski length. For me it´s at least body length and mount on the line for an allround setup (boot center- alpine ski center). For skis that you ski in pow a lot you can go back up to -2 from alpine center.
    For your first tries it´s definitely good to choose a pair that you find easy to handle on an alpine setup. Something like QST 108s, Soul 7s, ….

  2. Definitely use shorter poles. If you’re poles are too long it’s going too get your hands up too high and put you in the back seat. My poles are about the same level as my belt when the tips are inserted in snow up to the baskets.

  3. You need to do an interview with Urmas Franosch. He will clear up all things telemark .Technique,gear, everything! Listening to the folks you’ve talked to makes me wonder if they have 10 days between the 4 of them. Urmas , he’s your guy. Ps… got some old Mantras 184 with Hammerheads I can send your way.

  4. Can’t wait for you to finally ski tele! For such a connected but of gear heads, you sure were talking to people out of the loop about current tele gear. There are lots of good sources of tele info on the internet but the most informed conversation about tele is happening on Craig Dostie’s site:

    Just start on 22Designs Outlaws and NTN boots (TX Comps are my favorite, but are the widest). If someone was starting alpine skiing today, would you tell them to begin on Cubco bindings and leashes? Nope, so use NTN with brakes. Tele is so fun!

  5. “Telemark was a movement towards simplicity”… yeah, in 1980 !
    Loving the gear discussion.
    -Yes, kneepads are a great thing. One rock/stump impact with a patella would be “bad”. I wear IXS Daggers, same as biking; some friends wear hardware store pads.
    -Ski down with boots in ski mode. Walk with boots in walk mode. I don’t know what Geoff is talking about…
    -NTN or 75mm, technique is the same. You can stand high or low.
    -Use the skis you like. You might enjoy them tele, or not. You’ll figure it out.
    Showing my family’s quivers, maybe it’ll help:
    We ride Scarpa NTN boots, bindings mounted boot center on ski recommended line.
    Me (no alpine since ‘87):
    Moment Wildcat 108 + 22D OutlawX
    Moment Exit World + 22D Outlaw
    Herwiggy + Rotte Freeride
    The Missus (25 yrs tele, strong alpine before):
    Volkl Aura + 22D Outlaw
    The Kid (tele for 17 of his 22 yrs):
    Armada AR8 + Rotte Freeride
    Praxis GPO + 22D Outlaw
    4FRNT Gaucho + Rotte Freeride
    Moment Deathwish Tour 107 + 22D OutlawX
    Ski Logik Howitzer (?) + Rotte Freeride
    I think your plans of playing with a variety of skis sounds like a BLAST! Especially some 175cm slalom race skis, would love to slice-n-dice on those!!!

  6. Walk mode! Yes it’s great for skiing. The Scarpa T1 75mm, TX Comp NTN, and TX Pro NTN are wonderful boots. Ski in walk mode makes for smoother flexing performance, more forgiveness of minor backseat balance errors, less fatigue, and a fun degree of looseness. (Walk mode skiers might be a bit like thoughtful Full Tilt skiers that are not satisfied with boots that box them into a proscribed technique or stance.) True, skiing in walk mode punishes severe backseat balance errors… so fall and get back up.

    Skis can be anything that handles well in normal length at moderate speeds for your likely terrain. East Coast, so I like even-flexing park skis mounted on the line, so long as the line is not forward of -4 cm (true center feels clumsy).

    75mm bindings… go with 22 Designs. There are other nice bindings but are less supportive of strong alpine skier shenanigans. Never tried Bishop… they’d be a second choice over all the other wimpy stuff.

    NTN binding… 22 Designs Outlaw/X is smooth and great (for easier entry use leashes not brakes). Rottefella NTN choices are fine with top steering precision and edging, but lack smoothness in forward flex that many find important. Don’t do tech toe NTN at this stage.

    Knee pads. I use 661 mountain bike knee pads at a minimum. Many times I use Demon hip, tail, knee pad all in one underlayer piece.

    Poles. I alpine with 48″, tele at 44″. 90% of the time I don’t use poles lift served. It’s great! Love halfpipe especially without poles. If poleless and confronted by moguls, I’ll throw in some alpine turns with snowblade type technique, super centered, super fun goofiness.

  7. 1 – You’re getting better advice in these comments than on your podcast. (Same goes for comments on your “Crash Course” podcast.)

    2 – IMHO the “soulfulness” factor you mentioned in the pod correlates to stiffness and activity level of a tele binding, and retrogrouches don’t like NTN because they’ve tried only the stiffest setups. Strongly recommend if you go NTN to use the 22D OutlawX set to a low spring tension; it’s the best of both worlds because you get the strong edging of modern NTN with a smooth progressive flex like the best old school 75mm bindings.

    3 – Tele boot center to center mark on ski. Don’t over think this at the start.

    4 – If you insist on overthinking the mount, use the Rottafella Freeride binding which is easily adjusted to 3 positions – boot center, +1.5 cm from center, and -1.5cm from center. The lack of smoothness that some folks find in this binding can be mitigated by dialing down the spring tension below the recommended level on the chart and skiing in walk mode. I go -1 to -1.5 on the spring tension for a less active feel on Freerides with no pre-release issues (and like every tele skier on the internet I charge as hard as my alpine friends!).

    5 – The memorable phrase “bamboo scissors” came up in your last pod on technique. Based in part on your reviews of various Liberty skis on Blister I’ve been using and loving their bamboo core skis for tele gear for a while now. I’d highly recommend any of the Origin or Evolv series as a first tele ski. Bamboo core = great flex for a tele ski, and they all tend to be softer up front and relatively stiff in the tails.

    6 – Don’t just learn to tele ski – learn to tele fall. In both the technique and gear pods you and a guest are hung up on “Superman” crashes. If that’s what I call “over the handlebars”, then of course it sucks because falling tends to suck, but falling backwards in tele gear sucks even harder. Ever see one of those ACL injury prevention videos that recommends rolling forward in a fall if possible? Same advice holds – perhaps even stronger – in tele bindings. In the rearward twisting fall scenario that causes a lot of torn ACLs, the telemark toepiece will not release (except maybe the old Voile CRB); all the torque loads up in your knee; and you can (and should) imagine the rest. But in forward falls good news – your heel is ALWAYS released!

    7 – There’s no shame – and a lot of sense – in getting comfortable with parallel turns on freeheel gear at the outset. If you’re a good alpine skier it’s a pretty easy adjustment – basically drop your hips and bend your knees a bit so that you are fully weighting the center of the ski (and do not go over the handlebars).

    8 – Speaking of weighting the center of the ski, the telemark turn is just a different technique to weight the center of the ski. Lifting a heel and dropping a knee looks like an end in itself and can really trip beginning tele skiers who focus on the outward appearance of the motion (maybe because they just want to post a video showing they tried telemarking?) without actually weighting the ski. The point of lifting the heel and dropping the knee is not to look like a tele skier, it’s make a solid turn by flex your weight onto the inside ski through the ball of the foot. And the moment your weight is flexed down is the moment to start flexing up – it’s a dance, not a stance, at whatever pace fits the terrain and your taste .

    9 – That’s a lot of words. There’s only so much your commenters and pod guests can tell you. But there’s a lot more that a good teacher can SHOW you, and some of the best old school teachers put out a classic cartoon book that is worth checking out before you get on tele gear (and in the first few days/weeks/years): see Allen & Mike’s Really Cool Telemark Tips.

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