The decline of interest in telemark skiing continues to make the news. The latest being Black Diamond Equipment’s decision to cease production of their telemark boot line. There has been no official announcement as of this report, but a source at Black Diamond (who was unable to speak on the record) has confirmed the telemark pullout to the Gear Institute.
The writing has been on the wall for a few years now. When BD first entered the free-heel boot market, the brand came out with six different telemark boot models. That was quickly whittled down to four, then three, and when a retailer in the Southern Hemisphere recently complained he couldn’t order any additional boots for next season, it was clear to this writer that the future projection was for none.
In hindsight, it is clear that BD came to the tele tribe’s party after the peak of interest. There just aren’t enough customers to support four separate brands of teleboots, a lamentable condition. BD boots are hardly inferior, but with demand absent, technical credentials matter little. It’s easy to simply say the numbers aren’t there and so interest in telemark will fade away. Except I’m not okay with that, and a number of passionate free heel skiers are not okay with that either.
But what can we do? The problem is that unless interest grows enough to support the remaining manufacturers of telemark specific equipment, it’s hard to see how this niche faction of skiing can survive.
Pointing out that telemark skiing is on an endangered activities list is my attempt to rally interest to prevent it from becoming extinct. If telemarking is relegated to the dustbin of history, who will AT skiers have left to ridicule?
(Editor’s Note: Regular Gear Institute contributor Craig Dostie posted an extended version of this story on earnyourturns.com. Click here to view Craig’s full article).