When Scarpa’s T3 died I was disappointed. When TX was killed I protested. When T-Race died, I didn’t lament personally, but I shared the grief of those who demanded the performance it delivered. Now that Scarpa has decided to relegate T1 to memory lane, there’s no denying the clock is counting down on the death of all 75mm duckbilled plastic telemark boots (PTBs).
Why is Scarpa abandoning the T1? In a succinct text Kim Miller, president of Scarpa USA, said there was, “just not enough demand.” The same stroke that felled T-Race killed the market for T1 — NTN. TX-Pro does the same thing T1 was built for, only better. The reality is, high performance heavy telemark equipment is better served with an NTN connection that delivers more torsional rigidity for better edging, especially on hardpack, the dominant condition under the lifts. With the announced end of T1, in-bounds telemarkers will be forced to update to an NTN system. When you’re forced to migrate, you may have to try a few different rat traps to find which combination is best for you, but the good news is you will figure it out.
75mm destined for leather
The Nordic Norm that defines the geometry of the classic, 75mm wide, asymmetric, duckbilled sole isn’t going away. There is still a fair business in rugged touring, where telemark proficiency isn’t required. Not that it isn’t possible, but the emphasis is on touring mobility, turns are secondary. In fact, in the 75mm realm leather boots will be the norm. There isn’t much cuff to impede ankle movement in this genre, or much cuff to restrict it if you wanted to. Back in the day it was enough. It still is if you don’t set your sights too high.
T2 lives on
For the moment, T2 is safe. It is legendary. You might argue so is T1, but for different purposes. T2 is still the best PTB for touring Scarpa makes. If you want better, you need to make a Franken-TX with a custom cuff ripped off an AT boot. Otherwise, and especially if you’re a “duckbills or die” kind of guy, it’s time to make a last stand.
Retiring a Legend
While the opportunity to exceed turn performance makes the death of T1 easier to bear, it is the death of a legend. T1 is the second version Terminator. T2 came after Terminator, but when Scarpa turned their attention to revising the Terminator it became the T1.
The next T1, the bumblebee version, introduced Scarpa’s patented curved bellows. With the bumblebee version all the imperfections in the original Terminator were addressed. It wasn’t just one thing, it was everything. It had a rounder flex. The addition of the instep buckle locked your heel in the pocket. The liner was heat moldable. Ever since then the design has only seen slight changes, more buckles, different buckles, and more color schemes than I can keep track of, but the essence of the T1 remained the same.
In some ways the duckbilled T1 lives on. The T2 mold is based on the first black-on-black T1. It has the same horsepower as that early T1, but goes by the T2 name.
Although T1 has obviously been retired and extinction inevitable, it will remain visible for several years since we know PTBs don’t just die, they are abandoned, or given a life extension as hand me downs for newbies. They’re not truly dead and gone until they’re at the dump.
Nonetheless it is sad to see another telemark boot cut from the ledger. There’s only four left, and the two Crispi duckbill models, CX-R and CX-P, haven’t been seen west of the Mississippi in a long, long time.
The ranks of NTN boots aren’t growing either which begs the question of what the future holds for plastic Telemark boots. Will Scarpa be a one model Telemark boot company, or is there still a chance something will emerge from Scarpa’s skunkworks lab? How long would the wait have to be before it’s too late?
Long live T1. Long live the ducks.