For the past couple of years I’ve been amused by loud panting in the telemark community about a new telemark binding and boot standard that’s creeping to reality. Known as the “New Telemark Norm,” the “NTN” standard appears to basically define the boot as having the same sole configuration as a DIN standard shaped randonnee boot, with the possible addition of grooves or indents that allow a special binding to hold the boot for free-heel telemark skiing.
|Image of NTN prototype, grabbed from the Livigno Festival site and processed to slightly enlarge. Used by permission.|
Presumably, the idea behind NTN is to get away from the archaic “duckbill” sole shape that makes today’s telemark boots so poor for mountaineering, and incompatible with anything but bindings that look like something from the early 1900s (despite the use of bright colored plastic).
A binding for the NTN standard boot shape is being displayed at a telemark festival in Italy. It appears incredibly similar to some sort of backcountry skiing randonnee binding, and assuming it will have a release mechanism, could presumably be sold with the option of a heel latch-down, thus making it the “do anything” binding I predicted in my Couloir Magazine column more than a decade ago.
Image of NTN prototype, grabbed from the Livigno Festival site and processed to slightly enlarge.
What’s exciting to me (but I’m not panting — promise) about the NTN standard is not that it allows yet another heavy and complex telemark binding contraption (yawn), but that it defines a public domain sole shape that presumably could be molded in ALL touring boots, telemark and randonnee (and used for both types of bindings) thus breaking the strangle hold that Dynafit has on the dedicated boot/binding market. Thus, NTN is something to watch for all of us.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.