The Constant improvements in telemark skiing technology are quite incredible. You have to hand to to the ski manufacturers, the highly competitive nature of the industry drives innovation and change which undoubtedly increases our enjoyment of the mountains.
For the buyer however, each purchase is an investment that most people don’t want to repeat and none of us want to regret. How do we separate the marketing hype from tangible improvements in the kit that we’ll really benefit from?
Due to the lack of telemark test equipment available, many people resort to testing skis with their alpine gear hoping to get a feel for the ski, guesstimating it’s performance or suitability to a tele setup. Although not ideal, this is often the best option, if you follow this route, there are four key factors to bear in mind; go light, go short, go soft and remember the boots and bindings.
Our advice is to go lighter than your optimal alpine ski. Why? Quite simply you’re working physically far harder than alpine skiers, a lighter ski is easier to manoeuvre and therefore fatigues less. Go light, save your legs and ski for longer
Bear in mind that the telemark stance is far longer in ski length than the alpine stance. Long skis are less agile, go faster and physically harder to handle. Furthermore, in order to change edge in a telemark turn, we have to make a lead change. This process takes longer and uses far more effort than simply changing edges in an alpine turn. By nature the telemark turn is much less agile, so buy a slightly shorter ski than you’d buy if alpine skiing to help match your equipment to the telemark technique.
Like a stiff alpine ski? So do I! No matter how good you are at flexing a telemark ski, you can’t pressure the skis in a telemark turn as efficiently as you can in an alpine turn. That’s why the World Cup telemark skiers opt for the softer ‘factory’ models. My GS ski of choice for example, would be a women's factory GS ski.
Do yourself a favour, go slightly softer and ski for longer.
If you get a chance to test a telemark set up, remember it’s incredible how much influence a telemark binding has over a ski’s performance or people’s perception of its performance. Not only are there many different types of tele binding on the market, but in my opinion unlike alpine bindings, they all feel very different, especially if they’re new and haven’t been worn in yet. Equally a well used binding can feel very soft. By the same token, a brand new boot will have a stiff bellow, making flexing the knee physically hard. Don’t be too quick to write off a ski unless you’re comfortable that’s it’s not the binding or boot combination that could be negatively influencing your perception of the skis performance. For more advice on buying boots and bindings - check our reviews.
Read the reviews and check the ski tests, the category winners are generally are good start but remember everyone's different - technically, physically and psychologically, while some media have a vested interest in promoting certain brands.
Check the Tele Tracks ski reviews for some independent advice on a range of brands, if you've got any feedback or have any kit you'd like to review, give us a shout! We'd love to hear from you...
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