A young man's love interests are sometimes many and form an inevitable pattern — or at least this young man's did. I've no doubt that there are high school sweethearts out there who never thought of another, content to stick with their first love for a lifetime. Bully for them. Those people are probably still very happy with the performance of their Black Diamond 01 telemark bindings.
Speaking solely from my own experience, though, finding true love requires some trial and error. As one loves, falls out, then loves again with someone new, they refine what they are looking for and discover new traits they find endearing or perhaps even extraordinary. But sometimes a new love interest’s deficiencies can't be overlooked. For instance, if a prospective mate is attractive, intelligent and fun, but only skis groomers… or, god forbid, doesn’t ski at all.
Perhaps others are not as discerning as myself, in love or when it comes to tele gear. But man, I have skied a lot of telemark bindings, and there have been some truly exceptional developments over the years.
The first time I toured a free pivot, oh yeah, that was hot. Getting rid of the cable around the heel? So sexy, thought I'd never need more. The NTN Freedom skied OK I guess, assuming you don't mind spending powder days on the corduroy or fiddling with that toe-lever thingamajig. The step-in/brakes combo on offer from Idaho just last year? That one was a terrible date actually — we weren't together long. But still, my desires were refined. And I kept on looking for tele love.
Let me say that I am truly lucky on the romantic front. My wife doesn't complain when it's her turn to break trail and will happily spend eight or more hours achieving a summit. If it's snowing and I'm feeling lazy after ten consecutive powder days, she will make coffee and breakfast before dragging me up the hill again. She is The One. I've been blessed. But I also refused to compromise.
That unwillingness to compromise has finally paid off when it comes to telemark bindings. I have spent the last month skiing Bishop Binding’s NTN-compatible prototype, the new BMF-R telemark binding. And after years and years of, "Wow, this binding skis pretty good, but...", I have finally found The One.
The BMF-R is no compromises. My buddies have accused me of being a broken record: "It's just like an alpine binding! It's just like an alpine binding!" A statement that is the best compliment a tele binding can get.
If the 3-pin dudes think telemark gear should remain its own unique monster and nothing like it's fixed-heeled competitor, well, people who don’t ski seem to find partners too. For better or worse, Markers and Looks are the gold standard alpine ski bindings. They are easy to get into, ski great and rarely break. These are not compliments often given to telemark bindings. Until now.
When I get off the gondola or step up to the trailhead, I toss my skis down, press my toe into the BMF-R and step into the heel. The ski brakes flick up and I'm ready to shred; no bending over, no throwing levers, no "kick kick kick, stomp stomp stomp" trying to get some Byzantine cam system to engage. You wouldn't even know it's a tele binding. It's so easy. Maybe even graceful.
And, totally crazy, the same is true when skiing. Watching from the lift, you can always tell when a skier is making alpine turns on tele gear. The knee angles are wrong, the butt sits too far back, the skis don't really bend. It's one of freeheel skiing's darkest secrets: we're all a bunch of tailgunners, feeling safe in the backseat but not really driving.
The BMF-R offers a true world's first in its ability to switch at will from powerful telemark turns to equally powerful parallel turns. Press shins to cuffs and lay those boards over, bro. There is so much power to the edges.
The BMF-R binding puts you in the driver seat. If you want to ski old-school low, go for it, but there's really no need. Maximum telemark action is available as soon as your heel leaves your ski. No deadness, no rocker launch, just smooth, effortless engagement of your energy to the sweet spot.
Three turns into my first run, I felt like I had new skis; I'd never bent a board with such ease. The BMF-R skis like no other telemark binding before it — an incredible blend of stiffness, activity and user-friendliness. By the end of that first fateful lap, I knew the search was over. I'd found true love. The best skiing telemark binding the world has ever seen. Totally flawless telemark technology. Like she was created just for me ...but only if she likes to go touring, right?TO BE CONTINUED!
It is International Women's Day 2017, and here at Bishop Binding Co. we want to give a shoutout to all the badass women telemark skiers out there. It’s a day to remind the strong women in your life that they don’t need to apologize for being awesome, and as badass ladies on tele skis we need to claim this sport as ours too.
It’s pretty safe to say that everyone knows the badass women alpine skiers of the world: Vonn, Maze, Gut and Shiffrin, who are constantly pushing the limits of speed and strength. Everyone knows freestyle women: Kearny and Dufour-Lapointe, as they expand notions of beauty, grace and gravity.
But where are the badass telemark women of the world?
We are in your backyard. We camp in the parking lot and are hiking up before you’re even making your morning coffee. We are dropping cliffs and taking face shots before you have your boots on. We are smacking gates, hitting rails and dodging trees. And we are still doing it all long after you have packed up your car and are heading home for the day.
On the slopes, I often get introduced to other people as “the best” or “one of the best female telemark skiers in the United States.” While this is true (I’ve seen the top of a podium or two, or twenty) why can’t they just say, “Oh yeah, see her there? Yeah she’s one of the best telemark skiers in the United States.” Because I am. Don’t say I ski like a girl. I either ski like someone who has practiced and trained for hours, or I ski like someone who hasn't.
My journey to get here was long and it was rough. It has been bruises and tears, sore muscles, lost toenails, broken bones and frostbitten skin. When I was 10, I finally convinced my parents to get me a pair of telemark skis and boots; a 3-pin binding setup and gold old leather lace-ups. While I still have elf-sized feet (6.5), back then there was no hope of finding something small enough. We stuffed the front of the boots with newspaper and socks and off I went. Within two years, I became the founding member of a telemark group at my home mountain that in the past 10 years has produced not only dozens of passionate and talented telemark skiers between the ages of 7 and 20 but also five U.S. National Team telemark skiers. Four are men. One is me.
When I joined the tele world it was a man’s sport: They taught me the joys of going uphill as well as down, how to rip the bumps and kick back a beer at the end of the day, and for that I will always be grateful. But there is no reason that we need to be in that world any more, the great guys that taught me to telemark make up part of the sport, but there is no reason they should own it. If you take a minute to look around you will see the badass women and girls that are teleing all around the world (#girlswhotelemark on instagram is a great place to start) and you should take note because we are the ones who are pushing the sport to go further. We are the ones who are out there during our lunch breaks demoing new equipment and skiing with other people, inspiring them to do what we love.
The fight to change the industry — the products that are being produced and the way that they are marketed — is a long road, but that doesn't mean that women just have to roll over and accept it. Yes, it will be a long time before I find a women's boot that is stiff and powerful enough for my skiing, so until then I will rock my men's T-Race, the only 75mm boot that is powerful enough to match my Bishops.
When you’re asked why you do what you do, don’t say because your boyfriend does it, or your husband. You telemark because you love it and you’re good at it, and it’s okay if people know that. So my advice for the badass telemark ladies out there (from someone who is still trying to figure it out for herself), is to be the boss of your own sport, teach your friend, or sister, or daughter to telemark because it is their sport too. On International Women's day, we hear how women belong in the boardroom and sky-high offices, but hey — we belong on the ski mountain too, dropping knees and turning heads, one tele turn at a time.
To telemark fanatics on the east coast: First of all, bless you for sticking with this winter -- it looks like it is finally getting underway! And just in time too, since in just two weeks, on February 6th at Mt. Abram in Maine, New England Telemark will be hosting their annual Telemark Festival.
Admissions is free for all festival events, which include demos of many major telemark brands for boots and skis. Demo gear can only go out for an hour, so if you need equipment for longer than that check out the local rental shops, Allspeed (Portland) and Green Machine (Norway).
NET is supported by PSIA certified instructors who will be offering lessons and clinics in the morning and afternoon- with no special registration required! Just buy a regular Mt. Abram’s lift ticket and you are good to go.
Be sure to join Bishop athlete and US Telemark team member, Sarah Carley as she races in a USTSA sanctioned downhill race. There will be categories open to the public and prizes to win so jump in and join Sarah and other top US athletes for this event.
And what type of telemark festival would it be without a beer at the end? Taking place all day long in the lodge is the White Grass Bluegrass Festival- so stop in, unbuckle your boots and grab a drink. We'll see you there!
Let’s get something straight: There’s not really a right or wrong way to make a telemark turn. Keep that caveat in mind when you have the urge to scream something about me being a blaspheming jackass while you’re reading this. The turn is a dynamic and fickle mistress that’s adaptable to terrain, conditions and personality. Whether you get wicked low and smell like patchouli oil spilled on the floor of a brothel or you fancy skin suits and precise edge bevels, there’s a unique way the turn will fit your needs. So we’re not going to get too technical here; instead we’ll focus on a few concrete concepts that apply to almost anyone.
If you’re a beginner just finding your way to the enlightened freeheel realm, these tips can help speed up your learning curve without a bunch of PSIA-inspired, brain-busting bull$%!^. Or if you’re a telemark Zoolander with an aversion to going left, these basics will transform you into an ambi-turning legend. Best of all, you only really have to remember two things:
1. A strong telemark stance is all that really matters.
Capable telemark skiing lives and dies in a powerful telemark stance. There’s more than one way to do it, but the key lies in being able to quickly get into your comfortable telemark stance and drive down the fall line. I’m not too dogmatic on what a telemark stance looks like, but there are a few things I think help out a lot.
A good drill is to traverse a relatively flat groomer and while getting into and out of your telemark stance on one side. Go from the right side of the run to the left while practicing your left turn stance (right foot forward). Go all the way across the run smoothly engaging and releasing from your strong telemark stance. Turn and repeat on the opposite side. Drop your poles so you don’t have anything to cheat with, and just focus on achieving a good solid base in one motion.
2. Ski the fall line.
Skiing the fall line makes everything a lot easier. Usually when you feel like you’re fighting your turns, you’re doing something to cross up the fall line, and it’s straight up harshing your mellow.
Example of Garbage Techinque for Garbage Skiing:
Example of Strong Fall Line $%!^:
There’s your rocket surgery. Keep you stance compact. Get into your stance quickly. Keep your upper body and turns moving down the fall line. Now get out to a demo day, a freeheel clinic or any other event where you can show folks what you’re made of.