There’s a move afoot to develop a new “norm” for telemark boots, a Telemark Tech Norm (TTN), to account for the presence of tech inserts in NTN boots. Whether such a norm will be approved and adopted remains to be seen.
According to Pierre Mouyade, the man pushing the new norm and Meidjo’s inventor, Scarpa and 22Designs have verified it. By “verified” Pierre means approved. Boot and binding makers agree with nailing down dimensions for a telemark norm relative to the inserts. Those are absent from the current NTN specification, which reflected the parameters of the Freeride/TX interface, nothing more.
When I asked Ben Rockis, owner of Pine Needle Mountaineering in Durango about the possibility of a new telemark norm his first response was an exasperated, “Another one?”
Twelve years down the road it’s easy to see how the moment tech inserts were added to the first NTN boot, Scarpa’s TX, the need for another norm took root. But do we really need a third telemark norm to acknowledge the presence of tech in the telemark domain?
Tele Tech was for locking heels
The original reason for inserts in the first NTN boot, Scarpa’s orange TX (one dozen years ago), was to offer a boot that could switch between a low-tech AT binding for locked heel turns, or Rottefella’s Freeride NTN binding for freeheel turns; same boot, dual purpose. Nobody at Scarpa considered using tech inserts in a telemark boot with a telemark binding. Not seriously. Besides, it didn’t exist at the time.
To add an ironic twist to the story, Scarpa eliminated the heel inserts in 2016 so their NTN boots can no longer be used with an AT tech binding. Blame lawyers for that decision. As of today, only Crispi offers boots that let you switch hit, and the Meidjo is the only binding that can.
Tech is for Tele Turns too
Once inserts were embedded in the boots, the cogs of creativity started turning. It only took a few years before Mark Lengel went rogue and paired a Dynafit toe with a classic cable binding to create the first telemark tech binding. Due to the inherent adjustability of the real heel connection Lengel’s Telemark Tech System didn’t demand a new norm. When Pierre Mouyade invented Meidjo, a hybrid TeleTech binding with the NTN second heel connection point the need for a norm was born.
Tele Tech needs standards
When issues arose last winter (2019) with a few Crispi boots not cooperating with Meidjo and Lynx something had to change. It appeared the boots were, literally, coming up short at the duckbutt (NTN’s second heel). Crispi’s Italian headquarters were stone cold silent to queries. Not atypical in my experience. The Fey Bros., Crispi’s US distributor, grudgingly admitted that there might be a problem with a few of their small soled NTN boots. How widespread the problem was/is remains unknown, but it made a stir on Facebook and other shadowy places on the web and it most definitely had the owners of the short boots in a huff about their new tele rig not working as expected; and rightfully so. Could it be Crispi inserts are not in the same place they are for Scarpa boots relative to the second heel?
Telemark Pin Spec Needed?
Which raises another point. Is there a spec for the pins? I’ve seen the ice cutting grooves worn when they were located on the rear upper quadrant of a pin. Do there need to be specs on the manufacture of pins for telemark bindings? Pierre’s TTN proposal only deals with the boot sole. As to whether the pins should be different from pins in AT bindings, he said, “No, if you make the pins correctly, with the proper hardness, the location of the grooves shouldn’t matter and it shouldn’t wear the inserts excessively either. The tolerances are tight, and there is some special processing to get the right hardness but it is achievable.” In other words, the pins in the bindings don’t need a norm, but manufacturers might want to bone up on Dynafit’s process.
As you can see, there are some things to be learned and some things begging for cooperation and agreement, like defining dimensions for boots to work with this emerging telemark interface.
Are you intrigued? Do you want a better system, or are you content with tele as it is? Your comments below could influence the direction telemark heads in the next year.
A look at the pros and cons of TTN; the hopes and the risks.