Telemarker looking for race skis

tovodeverett

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I'm looking for a good ski for Masters racing with telemark gear!

I'm a long-time telemarker (30+ years, I started when I was 13). This past season was my first in full-plastic boots - I transitioned from my beefy leather Merrell Super Comps into Scarpa TX Pros on 2017 Atomic Vantage 95C 186cm with Meidjo 2.1 bindings. I love the Meidjo bindings, even if they are spendy ($600 to $700 depending upon where you buy them).

Years of skiing in softer leather boots has taught me aggressive angulation techniques just to get a modicum of edge hold, so it's been fun transitioning to gear with actual edge control. I don't think I've lost my slinky style - if you're curious, I got my older son to tail me with a GoPro on a low-angle groomer run and then cropped the video.

This coming season I'm going to race Masters with the Alyeska Ski Club and work on committing and rebounding in higher-energy turns. My kids are in Mighty Mites (an intro racing program) and have turned into serious ski addicts - we got in 30+ days this past year.

I'm working with a local ski shop (Ski AK) in an attempt to identify a solid ski choice for training and racing both SL and GS. It's been a challenge because of a whole host of conflicting requirements. An issue for telemarkers is that it's almost impossible to demo tele gear - there's not really any demo gear around here, and especially not for race setups. Binding choice and adjustment makes such a difference in how a a ski works for a telemarker that I have to make a decision and just hope for the best.

I'm throwing this challenge out to the Pugski community since this seems like a group with a wide range of experience and analysis. Here is what Ski AK and I have come up with for requirements:
  • Somewhere between 70mm and 85mm underfoot, preferably less than 80mm.
  • Radius between 16 and 19m.
  • Length in the 175cm to 180cm range. I'm nervous going too short because I need to ensure there's enough length to keep the inside ski from slipping behind the outside boot if my stance goes too deep under heavy loading (this is a common telemarker paranoia).
  • A little bit of rocker is OK, but not too much. I will still have my Vantage 95C's for all-mountain, pow hunting, crud slaying, etc.
  • Stiffness is the hardest one to figure out. Telemarkers split weight more evenly (60/40), and I weigh 150lb, so a good model would be a strong 110lb skier. I want something stiffer with more edge hold and damping than what I've currently got, but I need to be able to flex both skis to get good edge engagement. A bit of softness in the tip is probably helpful for initiation.
  • Titanal in the mount area is a must - tele bindings put a lot of stress in the mount area, especially wanting to rip out the rear screws on the binding when in a deep stance with the spring tension dialed up. Titanal in the rest of the ski is desirable.
  • Flat ski available - system bindings won't help me and they'll just leave a bunch of holes in the ski when they are unmounted.
Thoughts? Thanks for the advice!
 

Brian Finch

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I’ve not raced Tele in a number of years, but a soft Women’s GS is what you’re after. The race hill is firmer than you think. Go for a used ~176-182 GS & keep the lifters on.
 

Paul Lutes

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A single ski for training, SL aaaaaannnndddd GS???? Imposserous.

You'll at least need something shorter and tighter turning than the range you've listed for SL - poodling/trailing ski crossover shouldn't be an issue, especially given your tight stance displayed in your video. Your criteria are a good starting point to begin training, but definitely bite the bullet and face the reality of needing two different skis for SL and GS. Not having raced tele competitively (but I have free-heeled for almost 40 years and love to carve), I can only suggest a ski for training, based on what I've personally ridden - Nordica Doberman Spitfire RB FDT in the 174 length, R16 (168 if you think you may favor SL over GS).Don't be afraid of system bindings -- yes you're throwing away money on useless fixed heel bindings, but if you're serious about racing you'll be hemorrhaging money anyway (ogwink), and free-heel binding holes generally don't overlap with fixed heel bindings. Brian's suggestion for looking at women's GS skis is a good starting point but you may have a hard time finding the length you want in women's skis. Something a little more stable for training would be the Stockli laser SC in a 177.


You didn't mention boots and bindings, other than the your present rig of TX pros and Meidjos. Assuming you have a Scarpa foot, I'd strongly recommend upgrading your boots to the TX Comps and replace the stock liners with one of Intuitions race liners (the FX is my choice).
Props for being a serious free-heeler! :Teleb::Teleb::Teleb:
 
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silverback

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I have a pair of 2015 Atomic GS, 183cm, 26.2m radius. These were used by a 13 year old for super g. They have the plates but no bindings. $100 plus shipping.
 

James

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Find a coach or a program with feedback. You've developed habits in 30 yrs which will make you slow for racing.
 
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tovodeverett

tovodeverett

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Find a coach or a program with feedback. You've developed habits in 30 yrs which will make you slow for racing.
That's why I'm doing the Masters program! ASC has both a Masters race series as well as a Masters training program with coaches. The coaches know I'm going to have to adapt a lot of what they teach for telemark gear, but they're open to working with me (and another telemarker) and seeing what we figure out. Getting a chance to train on gates and watch and adapt from what the alpine skiers are doing as far as drills go is going to be a lot of fun. I raced when I was a teenager in the late 80s and there was a local telemarking racing club, but those days are long gone. I've heard great things about the Masters program up here - good coaches, friendly, wide range of skill sets, supportive, etc.

I'm not getting into Masters because I have any expectation of being competitive (except relative to the other tele Mighty Mites parents), but because I want to improve my technical skills on telemark gear, and this seems like a good way to go about it. I also miss running gates. Doing the parents' race each year on Mighty Mites weekend has reinforced how much I miss skiing gates, and especially that feeling of nervousness at the top of the course and the feeling of sweet relief when I make it to the finish!
 
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tovodeverett

tovodeverett

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Not having raced tele competitively (but I have free-heeled for almost 40 years and love to carve), I can only suggest a ski for training, based on what I've personally ridden - Nordica Doberman Spitfire RB FDT in the 174 length, R16 (168 if you think you may favor SL over GS).
Are you skiing those with tele bindings? What are they like? I've poked around looking at the reviews, but I have a hard time translating an alpine ski review.

Don't be afraid of system bindings -- yes you're throwing away money on useless fixed heel bindings, but if you're serious about racing you'll be hemorrhaging money anyway (ogwink)
Great, that's just my wife is going to want to hear! Keep in mind, I'm not serious about racing, I'm serious about improving my skiing. I know I'm not going to be competitive, and I'm not racing on FIS tele courses, but rather skiing alpine courses on tele gear for the fun of it!

Brian's suggestion for looking at women's GS skis is a good starting point but you may have a hard time finding the length you want in women's skis.
Problem too long or short? I just looked at the Dobermann GSR RB FDT (for example), I can get that every 5cm from 170 to 185, with the radius running from 17.5 to 20.5. That's a tad longer radius than I was thinking (at least in the length I'm considering). With that in mind, I might wait until fall and see if I can find some used women's non-FIS GS skis at a swap. Now that I have a solid idea what I'm looking for in terms of specifications, I may have better luck evaluating stuff at a ski swap.

Something a little more stable for training would be the Stockli laser SC in a 177.
Wow those are spendy! On sale for $1,100!

You didn't mention boots and bindings, other than the your present rig of TX pros and Meidjos. Assuming you have a Scarpa foot, I'd strongly recommend upgrading your boots to the TX Comps and replace the stock liners with one of Intuitions race liners (the FX is my choice).
Compared with my gear for the last two decades, the TX Pros are already insanely beefy! I even removed the bottom buckle on my old Super Comps to keep my sixth-toe happy, so those things were (heavy) slippers!

It took a bit of work with a local boot fitter to get the TX Pros fitted properly (push out for the sixth toe, heat moulded foot beds, additional Achilles heel padding to keep the heel locked down), but I'm really liking the fit and the way they ski. I can't pair TX Comps with Meidjos because the TX Comps lack low-tech toe inserts. I will say that's it's amazing how sensitive the feel is to tightness - one or two twists on the forefoot buckle can have a huge impact on how the inside boot skis, and I've gotten good at monitoring and tweaking the fit through the day as my socks pack out. I'm running Smartwool PhDs, and they made a huge difference in comfort (especially on my shins, which were getting pounded).

P.S. If you've telemarked for 40 years, you might appreciate some of my old gear! I started on Kneissl Red Star Mirages with camber and a half, 10mm of side cut, and with basically high-top sneakers for boots. Stiff skis and flimsy boots made it challenging, to say the least. I envied the racers with the Rossi TRS's and Super Comps. I upgraded to a pair of beat-up Snowfields with some old Hierling downhill cuffs strapped around them and some soft used 210cm Swallows. After I bent the Swallows, I got my first real pair of skis - Tua Wildernesses. I got the Super Comps around 1996 and a pair of Tua Montets MX. In the early 2000s, I had a pair of Evolution USA Slickrocks made with white top sheets and put custom graphics on them (based on a pencil sketch of the Chugach front-range), and that's what I skied up until this past season.
 

ScotsSkier

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A single ski for training, SL aaaaaannnndddd GS???? Imposserous.

You'll at least need something shorter and tighter turning than the range you've listed for SL - poodling/trailing ski crossover shouldn't be an issue, especially given your tight stance displayed in your video. Your criteria are a good starting point to begin training, but definitely bite the bullet and face the reality of needing two different skis for SL and GS. .....
Props for being a serious free-heeler! :Teleb::Teleb::Teleb:
This! Basically a complete waste of time trying to run slalom on anything other than a proper slalom ski. Plus you will F*** up the course for all the other athletes. Setting distance for Masters slalom is 10m Min, 13m Max. On a bigger non-slalom ski you will end up having to ski a round line in and out of the gates, not clearing/getting your body inside like you need to do to ski slalom effectively. Not fast and not slalom.! And your line will also create cross ruts for anyone running a correct line...
So, as you are going to need 2 pairs of skis, buy a proper slalom ski as the second pair, dont waste time or money on some short, small radius ski that "seems like a slalom ski" because (a) it will not work like a slalom ski and (b) It will not stand up to the rigors of skiing slalom/hitting gates.

The good news, since what you are really trying to find is a GS ski and a slalom ski without bindings, is that a lot of younger athletes sell their skis after a year without bindings so they can reuse the bindings. And without bindings they can be harder to sell so....good news for you. The deal offered by @silverback above is a good one and a good example.
 

Doug Briggs

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I teled in the BC beer league just after the turn of the century. I used the same type and size skis I was racing alpine on. 12 mm lifts under an already tall tele binding, Rottafella 7tm. The binding location put my toe at about the same place I'd have been for alpine. My boots were T1 bumble bees. I started in leathers, skinny Kazama race skis and voile three pins in the late '80s.

I'd say whatever the alpine racers are using for skis is appropriate for racing tele. Any SL ski will do as will a Masters/cheater GS. The Meidjos binding looks bomber, albeit non-release (if I read the review right).

Best of luck. Be fast!
 
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tovodeverett

tovodeverett

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This! Basically a complete waste of time trying to run slalom on anything other than a proper slalom ski. Plus you will F*** up the course for all the other athletes.
Harsh, but point taken! ogsmile The good/bad news is that I suspect I won't be the only one creating course issues - Masters up here seems to have a pretty wide mix of skill levels - watching this video from late March, I see everything from skiers who obviously have serious racing backgrounds to those who are upper intermediates trying out racing for their first year. BTW, yes, they are racing below a big avalanche debris field. Spring break this year at Alyeska was a blast for the first half, hovering in the high 20s and dumping, but then temps warmed just enough that it poured for the last few days and huge chunks of the mountain went isothermal with major load on them. They had to shut the mountain for several days waiting for it to cool enough and resolidify, and they had some big avalanches rip all the way to ground level. Finding space on the mountains for races in the late season was a real challenge this year. I skied on days with my kids where the bottom of the mountain was in the high 30s/low 40s for the entire day and they got 1+ inches of rain at the bottom. Alyeska has a pretty low base - 250 ft above sea level!

The good news, since what you are really trying to find is a GS ski and a slalom ski without bindings, is that a lot of younger athletes sell their skis after a year without bindings so they can reuse the bindings. And without bindings they can be harder to sell so....good news for you. The deal offered by @silverback above is a good one and a good example.
You've forced me to consider something that suddenly makes a lot of sense. Yes, bindings are going to set me back $600 a pop, but if I pick up used skis for $100 to $200 a pair instead of blowing $800 a pair, I can put together a two ski quiver for around the same total outlay. Here's a question: If you were advising a new adult racer getting into Masters, and they had an all mountain set up (and I see Masters up here racing on all mountain skis, FWIW) and wanted to build their race quiver one pair at a time, which pair would you have them get first? My instinct is to say get SL first and just use the all mountain skis to run GS initially.

I think at this point I'm going to try to stop over thinking it. I'll wait until the fall, reach out to the coaches and get advice (and course setting guidelines - the Masters races up here aren't sanctioned, so they may tweak the setting guidelines), and then start hunting ski swaps and parents of older juniors.
 
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tovodeverett

tovodeverett

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I teled in the BC beer league just after the turn of the century. I used the same type and size skis I was racing alpine on. 12 mm lifts under an already tall tele binding, Rottafella 7tm. The binding location put my toe at about the same place I'd have been for alpine. My boots were T1 bumble bees. I started in leathers, skinny Kazama race skis and voile three pins in the late '80s.
I keep looking around to see if I'll spot a pair of Kazamas one of these days, but no luck so far. I remember a few of the cool guys had them back in the day.

The Meidjos binding looks bomber, albeit non-release (if I read the review right).
The Meidjos aren't DIN-certified, but they do have an adjustable release on the NTN spring box. Releasability was one of my requirements when selecting a new binding - I had used Voile plates since the late 80s, and I've had them save my knee. Caught an inside ski on an invisible mogul in total flat light and tweaked my MCL pretty hard one day, but the plate did release and I'm convinced that if it hadn't, I would taken a lot longer than a 6-week break from skiing! Another time I hit submerged rocks in powder - double-ejection superman and core shots on both skis.
 

Paul Lutes

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6th toe, huh? Don't bother looking at Crispi Evo WCs then, even though they have the tech toe inserts. They only accommodate 4 toes! :nono:
You may find yourself overpowering the TX Pros bellows when you aggressively charge gates - maybe a plastic layer over the liner toes under the bellows, like we used to do for the early plastic boot toe crunch.

The Spitfire RB FDT is a delightfully high energy but demanding ski. Not as demanding as the GSR or FIS Dobermans, but more than enough for your entry situation.
I'm running Rott Freerides on 10 mm risers on them. Boot out isn't as bad with NTN boots as it used to be, but you'll still need extra height to aggressively hold your edges on hard snow.

Forget what I said about no longer lengths in women's skis (only applies to rec skis).

As far as memory lane goes, I tended towards wider (for the time) AT skis e.g. Ramer shortcuts, Tua Mag. Excalibers, etc with the usual minimalist bindings (pins, cables, etc.). Was ecstatic when plastic boots came out so I could stop covering 50% of my feet with athletic tape to minimize blisters.
 

ScotsSkier

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Harsh, but point taken! ogsmile .......


You've forced me to consider something that suddenly makes a lot of sense. Yes, bindings are going to set me back $600 a pop, but if I pick up used skis for $100 to $200 a pair instead of blowing $800 a pair, I can put together a two ski quiver for around the same total outlay. Here's a question: If you were advising a new adult racer getting into Masters, and they had an all mountain set up (and I see Masters up here racing on all mountain skis, FWIW) and wanted to build their race quiver one pair at a time, which pair would you have them get first? My instinct is to say get SL first and just use the all mountain skis to run GS initially.

I think at this point I'm going to try to stop over thinking it. I'll wait until the fall, reach out to the coaches and get advice (and course setting guidelines - the Masters races up here aren't sanctioned, so they may tweak the setting guidelines), and then start hunting ski swaps and parents of older juniors.
Yes, if you are only going to buy one pair first get a proper slalom ski. You can still make a reasonable attempt at running GS on all mountain skis, certainly a lot more feasible than running slalom on a non-slalom ski.

I know a couple of your coaches up there that compete regularly in the national events. Even if it is non- sanctioned it would be unlikely to set slalom at >13m Beyond that it becomes glalom . And we have already stretched it from U19 sets which IIRC ( don’t have my Regs here) is 8-11m.
 
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tovodeverett

tovodeverett

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Returning to this thread in November! I picked up a pair of 2016 Fischer SL skis at the ski swap this year for $145 - bases look to be well cared for, and there's enough edge on them to last a while. I can't quite tell if they're stiff or med flex (I'm hoping they're medium). I have the bindings for them in hand, but I'm going to double check flex and my plans with coaches and compatriots at the upcoming potluck in two weeks before I spend the money to remove the system bindings and mount the Meidjos on them.

Now it just needs to $$^%^%&*&^ snow! This has been the warmest fall/early winter in Anchorage in decades and I'm getting really annoyed! The willows in our front yard have pussy willows on them because they think it's April. There's a high pressure ridge on the West Coast shipping their warm air up here and our cold air down south. Not fair!
 

TimF

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This is what I use on the small hills of Michigan. The Fischer WC RC Sl in 165. I have used it in Beer League for many years and even won NASTAR Nationals on it in 2014. (only one other racer in my age group LOL). As my daughter was race training, I took a few adult race lessons and the best part of that was I got to run gates as much as I wanted. I tried a junior GS ski 175cm one time but had trouble turning them unless I was really motoring so wasn't great for our shorter Beer League GS sets.
C9806494-5C23-415B-AA5B-1B6E202BC585_1_105_c.jpeg
 
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tovodeverett

tovodeverett

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This is what I use on the small hills of Michigan. The Fischer WC RC Sl in 165. View attachment 84150
This is a huge shot in the arm seeing a pair of the same skis with NTN bindings on them! Any suggestions on mount points? I'm assuming boot center (minus toe piece) to the boot center line on the ski is the way to go these days based on what I've managed to glean from web searches (https://absolutetelemark.com/mount-binding-telemar/ left me equal parts informed and uncertain ogsmile).
 

Paul Lutes

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This is a huge shot in the arm seeing a pair of the same skis with NTN bindings on them! Any suggestions on mount points? I'm assuming boot center (minus toe piece) to the boot center line on the ski is the way to go these days based on what I've managed to glean from web searches (https://absolutetelemark.com/mount-binding-telemar/ left me equal parts informed and uncertain ogsmile).
I'll defer to TimF given his race experience, but definitely standard alpine (boot center to ski mark) at least to start with - you may find that moving forward a bit will help though. And don't worry about the toe - NTN boots have no toe/duckbill; you don't need to measure to find the mid[point - your Scarpa Pros should have a boot center mark already on it.
 

Smear

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Hi, I'm a (ex)-telemarker that has dabbled a bit in masters racing. But I have used an alpine setup because I'm weak ;-) Racing will be fun. Enjoy!

Here's a question: If you were advising a new adult racer getting into Masters, and they had an all mountain set up (and I see Masters up here racing on all mountain skis, FWIW) and wanted to build their race quiver one pair at a time, which pair would you have them get first? My instinct is to say get SL first and just use the all mountain skis to run GS initially.
Hmmm... at that premise I agree that it's better to ski GS with all mountain than SL on an all mountain ski. But when starting out with racing GS in general is a lot easier than SL. Doing SL in telemark position makes my head hurt. Have not seen it done, but probably possible? Brushes or short gates would be fun, not so sure about full length gates. SL is also more in demand of protective gear like leg guards, pole guards and chin guard. Those gates come awfully fast. You can ski around them but that makes it is even harder. And blocking gates and skiing well at the same time is surprisingly difficult....

So my suggestion would be to focus on GS first. For skis you can use your all mountain skis. Or get a pair of GS-skis. Have seen several people just put NTN bindings on top of marker piston plates but not sure how they do that. Or you can find something without a plate. I think these at 99$ would be a bargin and suit you well. 6 years old but brand new.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/2014-Fischer-RC4-WorldCup-GS-183cm-Skis-Only-Medium-/312697326672?hash=item48ce368c50
 
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tovodeverett

tovodeverett

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Hmmm... at that premise I agree that it's better to ski GS with all mountain than SL on an all mountain ski. But when starting out with racing GS in general is a lot easier than SL. Doing SL in telemark position makes my head hurt. Have not seen it done, but probably possible? Brushes or short gates would be fun, not so sure about full length gates. SL is also more in demand of protective gear like leg guards, pole guards and chin guard. Those gates come awfully fast. You can ski around them but that makes it is even harder. And blocking gates and skiing well at the same time is surprisingly difficult....
The good news is, I'm not new to racing - I'm old to racing! I started out telemarking 30+ years ago when I was 13. There was a free multi-week clinic at a local ski hill up here in Anchorage, so we bought the cheapest thing we could find (touring skis with metal edges, camber and half, and 10 mm of side cut, along with wire bail three-pins and a pair of glorified high-top sneakers). I flailed all over that hill (and it wasn't very steep - Hilltop is aptly named, since the derivative at a maximum is 0. But I stuck with it, and there was a local telemark racing league (Alaska Telemark Racing Association, if I recall correctly). So for my 4 years, I hung out with the tele racers as a sort of kid mascot. I never won, but I still had fun and persevered. they sold me used gear cheaply. I upgraded to a pair of 205cm Swallows with XCD-II bindings and Asolo Snowfield II boots with the old cuffs from some Hierlings strapped around them, and eventually won a pair of Tua Wildernesses (they always drew for the donated prizes). They convinced me to buy Voile plates. They taught me silver tray, counter rotation, and skiing gates. I eventually took over responsibility for wiring and maintaining their portable timing gear. While I was away at college, they folded, and when I came back there wasn't a tele racing scene anymore. I did town league one year, but racing a night without that feeling of camaraderie didn't hold me, and drifted away from racing.

So I'm coming back to tele racing, and in addition to the alpine Masters, I've got a friend who teles who is going to do Masters as well. I do think I'm going to stick with the SL boards - it's more a question of whether I need to find some softer SL skis. My older son will age out of Mighty Mites after next season, but he's already got me picking up used SL skis for him for as he grows. The GS skis he uses on GS race days, but he's pretty clear that they're nowhere near as much fun as his SL skis for playing on the groomers. I'm hoping I'll have the same reaction - that I'll want my all mountain skis for soft snow days, but when it hasn't snowed in days I'll be breaking out my new turny boards.

You're right that I missed an opportunity to hunt for more protective gear at the ski-swap - maybe I'll find someone at the potluck with gear they're looking to hand down. From looking at https://vimeopro.com/alaskadigital/alyeskamasters/video/314159894, I can tell that there's a pretty wide range of skills on the courses, but you're right, a solid majority has full protective gear on. I do normally skis with knee pads (have since the late 90s), but leg guards would help protect my bibs, and I'll need to look for pole guards and probably a new helmet.

I'll post some links to videos once the races start running - if we actually get snow, there will be 4 SL races and 4 GS races this year, and lots of training days. I'm stoked!
 

TimF

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Oh Man, I tried to look through old notes but can't find anything. I took the Fischer plate off. I just I don't think it would work with the Rottefella Freeride's but can't remember why. There are 3 adjustment positions to move the binding forward or back so you can mount mount boot center and then play with it. I have the riser plates for an additional 10mm lift. This gives a total of 40mm of lift with binding and riser. Fun for carving and not slarving.


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