A young man's love interests are sometimes many and form an inevitable pattern — or at least this young man's did. I've no doubt that there are high school sweethearts out there who never thought of another, content to stick with their first love for a lifetime. Bully for them. Those people are probably still very happy with the performance of their Black Diamond 01 telemark bindings.
Speaking solely from my own experience, though, finding true love requires some trial and error. As one loves, falls out, then loves again with someone new, they refine what they are looking for and discover new traits they find endearing or perhaps even extraordinary. But sometimes a new love interest’s deficiencies can't be overlooked. For instance, if a prospective mate is attractive, intelligent and fun, but only skis groomers… or, god forbid, doesn’t ski at all.
Perhaps others are not as discerning as myself, in love or when it comes to tele gear. But man, I have skied a lot of telemark bindings, and there have been some truly exceptional developments over the years.
The first time I toured a free pivot, oh yeah, that was hot. Getting rid of the cable around the heel? So sexy, thought I'd never need more. The NTN Freedom skied OK I guess, assuming you don't mind spending powder days on the corduroy or fiddling with that toe-lever thingamajig. The step-in/brakes combo on offer from Idaho just last year? That one was a terrible date actually — we weren't together long. But still, my desires were refined. And I kept on looking for tele love.
Let me say that I am truly lucky on the romantic front. My wife doesn't complain when it's her turn to break trail and will happily spend eight or more hours achieving a summit. If it's snowing and I'm feeling lazy after ten consecutive powder days, she will make coffee and breakfast before dragging me up the hill again. She is The One. I've been blessed. But I also refused to compromise.
That unwillingness to compromise has finally paid off when it comes to telemark bindings. I have spent the last month skiing Bishop Binding’s NTN-compatible prototype, the new BMF-R telemark binding. And after years and years of, "Wow, this binding skis pretty good, but...", I have finally found The One.
The BMF-R is no compromises. My buddies have accused me of being a broken record: "It's just like an alpine binding! It's just like an alpine binding!" A statement that is the best compliment a tele binding can get.
If the 3-pin dudes think telemark gear should remain its own unique monster and nothing like it's fixed-heeled competitor, well, people who don’t ski seem to find partners too. For better or worse, Markers and Looks are the gold standard alpine ski bindings. They are easy to get into, ski great and rarely break. These are not compliments often given to telemark bindings. Until now.
When I get off the gondola or step up to the trailhead, I toss my skis down, press my toe into the BMF-R and step into the heel. The ski brakes flick up and I'm ready to shred; no bending over, no throwing levers, no "kick kick kick, stomp stomp stomp" trying to get some Byzantine cam system to engage. You wouldn't even know it's a tele binding. It's so easy. Maybe even graceful.
And, totally crazy, the same is true when skiing. Watching from the lift, you can always tell when a skier is making alpine turns on tele gear. The knee angles are wrong, the butt sits too far back, the skis don't really bend. It's one of freeheel skiing's darkest secrets: we're all a bunch of tailgunners, feeling safe in the backseat but not really driving.
The BMF-R offers a true world's first in its ability to switch at will from powerful telemark turns to equally powerful parallel turns. Press shins to cuffs and lay those boards over, bro. There is so much power to the edges.
The BMF-R binding puts you in the driver seat. If you want to ski old-school low, go for it, but there's really no need. Maximum telemark action is available as soon as your heel leaves your ski. No deadness, no rocker launch, just smooth, effortless engagement of your energy to the sweet spot.
Three turns into my first run, I felt like I had new skis; I'd never bent a board with such ease. The BMF-R skis like no other telemark binding before it — an incredible blend of stiffness, activity and user-friendliness. By the end of that first fateful lap, I knew the search was over. I'd found true love. The best skiing telemark binding the world has ever seen. Totally flawless telemark technology. Like she was created just for me ...but only if she likes to go touring, right?TO BE CONTINUED!