Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Rottefella NTN Freeride review

Rottefella NTN Freeride telemark binding.

Disclaimer: I admit that it might sound like Rottefella has payed me for writing this post. However, I am in no way sponsored by Rottefella, and has bought my equipment using my own "pocket money". Hence I do believe I am very objective in writing this review. That doesn't change the fact that I'm very impressed by the NTN binding, and that this review is a very positive one.

The old systems
I started Telemark skiing back in 1992, with low leather boots and long and narrow skis. A lot of development has luckily happened since then. Over the years I've tried out many different telemark bindings.

A modern edition of the 3-pin Rottefella Super Telemark binding.

Rottefella Chilli.

Rottefella Cobra.

Linken.

I started with the most traditional 3-pin toe binding from Rottefella. I have skied the Rottefella Chilli, Cobra and what have you got. I also used the Linken binding for a couple of seasons. Last winter I upgraded to the Rottefella NTN system.


The New Telemark Norm (NTN)

Rottefella NTN Freeride.


The NTN-system is quite different to cable bindings (and of course the 3-pin toe bindings as well). It's a step-in binding, with ski breaks. The bindings are mounted under the middle of the telemark boot, instead of behind the heel. This construction is said to give more control, and more power. Is this true?



My first experience with the bindings was a negative one. I found them way too stiff, and I had big problems making any proper telemark turns at all. However I soon realised that there were ways to adjust the bindings, and also the option to change "power tubes", to make the bindings stiffer or softer (I'm about 80kg, has got normal leg strength, and am now using blue power tubes for my on-piste skis and green for my off-piste skis).


After adjustments of the bindings it still took many days of skiing before I felt I mastered the NTN way of skiing. And after one season I still struggle hitting the "one boot length turn" ("The distance between the tip of the inner boot and the heel of the outer boot must be at least one boot length, measured in the direction of the ski." src: nastar.com).

I did get used to NTN though. And, as written before, the NTN system is making the gap in between alpine and telemark skiing a lot smaller. It is also true that the NTN systems gives you a lot more control and power to the edges of the skis than any other telemark binding I've ever tried. With good skis, boots and the NTN Freeride you can have great control even in high speeds. As I've now gotten used to this system there is no way I'm going back to anything else. At least not before another revolution happens. Because I have to admit that the NTN is the revolution Rottefella promised it to would be.

So if you have not tried out the NTN way of doing telemark skiing you should definitely give it a go. But don't just try it for a day. You will have to use it for several days before you truly learn it's advantages over other telemark bindings.

Freeride vs Freedom
At the time of writing there are two NTN bindings. The NTN Freeride and the NTN Freedom. The Freedom I have never tried, but it is lighter and more aimed at those who climb mountains. I prefer skiing down to walking up, so I reckon I will stick to the Freeride as I assume that gives more control than the Freedom binding.

2 comments:

  1. I too started on 3 pins and leather ankle boot and only the NTN has opened in my mind the possibility that with my limited skills, I could get to a level of the same confidence in steep backcountry on a telemark setup that I have in alpine. I am however struggling to get properly low enough on my Freerides and am committed to working on technique but am contemplating dropping to a lower spring tube setting (i'm on blue 3 and according to then chart I'm at the fat end of blue 3)

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  2. Hi Scott. This is a few months after your post, so you may have solved the problem of the stiff bindings. The Spring tube settings in the user guide is the MAXIMUM recommended for the skiers weight. I found that I can use the softer green spring and much lower setting(about 2), which allows the binding to flex more and get my 74kg into a low Telemark turn, which I couldn't do on the blue springs set at 3.

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