If you've been wondering just how good the new Rottefella NTN system actually is, and let's face it - everyone in the telemark skiing world is talking about it - you'll be interested in a completely independent review. We chatted to Fab Jolly - Avalanche Controller and Pisteur in Val d'Isere's legendary off-piste area Le Fornet. He knows his stuff and he's tested NTN kit more than most - he works in it every day, hear what he has to say...
TT - So Fab - just to start with I've got an easy question for you - Why do you love telemark skiing?
Fab - It gives me a great bum and my wife loves it! Also I can go to the Morris and eat burgers and not worry...
TT -How long have you been using NTN Boots?
Fab - I've been skiing on NTN now for 4 years.
TT - Why did you go for Crispi?
Fab - Quite simply because they fit me and they're stiff. I tried all the other brands at Au Vieux Campeur Albertville.
TT - Why did you decide to change to the Rottefella NTN system?
Fab - I can work in them, they feel stronger than non NTN, it's quick and easy to step in and out of, and the ski brakes prevent them from sliding away - which is really important for me at work when dealing with accidents or avalanche searches. The boots are also great for touring and I always have skins in my pack so I can hike up something quickly and easily.
TT - What's your favourite feature?
Fab - Rigidity and precision, while being very comfy. I've got injected Surefoot liners which gives even more precision and keeps my feet warm - they feel like flip flops - I love working in tele's.
TT - Would you recommend them to other telemark skiers and why?
Fab - Yes, if you've got enough experience then do it! No, if you're still a beginner to intermediate telemarker, they're too precise. You need to know how to turn well before you go NTN. The technique is not the same.
TT - How would you describe the difference in technique?
Fab - NTN feels a lot more like alpine skiing, that's why the French team use NTN and Crispi, you can really pressure the outside ski confidently and get it to flex. In general you get more precision, more stability, you can ski faster with more confidence and they cope with any snow conditions from ice to slush.
TT - Any disadvantages?
Fab - No! Well, they're a bit expensive…
TT - What's your favourite thing about NTN bindings?
Fab - They release like normal bindings - save your knees! And they come off in an avalanche, so you're more likely to float to the top (if you pull your airbag!).
TT - That's a really interesting point because I do know of some telemark skiers who think airbags are pointless if you're a tele skier using non-release bindings.
Fab - Exactly, but your airbag is your most important piece of kit because you never know how well your friends are going to react to you getting buried. Can they use their transceiver under stress? Can they use a transceiver for multiple burials? As an avalanche controller I always have an airbag, and so should everyone, but combine an airbag with NTN bindings and you're giving yourself the best chance of survival!
TT - What are the main benefits of the NTN binding?
Fab - Precision, safety for injury prevention and avalanche, they give me great confidence when I'm skiing and they're so easy to step in and out of.
TT - People talk about the expense of the binding but it seems Rottefella aren't really 'promoting' the plate system. What do you make of that?
Fab - That's right, with the NTN binding you only need to buy one binding and for each ski in your bag you just mount the plate, that means you can travel light and buy loads of skis!
Fab - Although I don't use it - another great feature is the adjustable pivot point.
TT - Thanks very much Fab; it's great to hear from a Pro who works in the kit everyday and who has given it a thorough testing. There's plenty for all of us to think about there.
Keep an eye on the site for the next NTN review, next time we're teaming up with an X-member of the British Women's Freestyle team who went NTN 2 seasons ago... We're also hoping to speak to a World Cup Telemark Skier to hear what he thinks and how he mounts a tele binding on an alpine ski which comes with a fixed race plate.
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Name: Fab Jolly
No. of tele years: 19
Current Ski: Scott Venture
Binding: NTN Race
Boot: Crispi Evo Race NTN
Occupation: Pisteur Securiste Avalanche Controller - Le Fornet Val d'Isère. Guest presenter for Henry's Avalanche Talks (HAT).
Work Profile: 15 years in Val d'Isère and 1 season in Threadbo Australia.
Favourite Tele Terrain: anything off-piste.
No. of days off-piste per year: works daily off-piste in his tele kit.
Favourite off-piste itineraries: Pointe Pers, Col des Montets, P3, Plan Charbonet, Terre Rouge.
Sponsors: Surefoot, ABS, Arva, Recco.
Skis: Zag Gold 191
Bindings: Rottefella Cobra
Boots: Crispi 75mm
Fab at work with his bare essentials - NTN kit and his dog