Jim Smith, owner of the Chalet, took time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about the latest Tech/NTN (New Telemark Norm) binding that he believes is the future of telemark skiing…the Meidjo binding from The M-Equipment.
The Boss Talks Bindings
Alex: So Jim, what is it about this binding, the Meidjo, that has you so excited about it? More specifically, how did you hear about the Meidjo, and what makes it different than the other NTN bindings on the market?
Jim: Ever since Matt introduced me to the video on YouTube, I’ve been obsessed with this binding. As an avid 75mm tele’r, I held this old school bias and thought NTN was just another gimmick. Besides, NTN bindings just looked heavy and bulky and I am just to S-M-ALLL. The Meidjo changed all of that – a NTN telemark binding with a Dynafit-style tech toe. I studied every review and replayed the video over and over and over. I even emailed M Equipment and asked for a dealership. I tried again a couple weeks later with no response as well. My anxiety had been building and I just couldn’t wait anymore. I finally purchased a pair for myself. When they arrived in the shop, it felt like Christmas morning. In truth, I’m a total gear junky – that’s why Elaine and I bought the shop. We opened them immediately. First impression, totally sexy. The second, feel how #!*^# light these things are (1.76lbs vs. 4.3lbs)!
But I then had to find the ideal ski. I wasn’t quite up to speed on all the new BC skis on the market. So I waited until I had a chance to demo them. The Cassiar 95 (Tour 1, 168cm, ONLY 3lbs!) from DPS won the day. They were light, responsive, and stable.
“First impression, totally sexy.”
Meanwhile, I get an email from M-Equipment announcing their new Alpin Heel. I said “Wait! What? Excuse me! That binding does what?”. Now you can go from tele to A.T. and back with the flick of your pole. I was already reaching for the credit card. I also knew I definitely wanted the dealership now, so there went the umpteenth email to request a dealership with M-Equipment. And, again, we had radio silence…but I don’t give up that easily either.
Alex: I noticed you didn’t really get a chance to get out and ski earlier in the season. I’m sure it had to do with things like making sure I have a place to work, so I won’t hold it against you. However, since your new rig was completed recently, you’ve made it out a few times. I even got to witness some of it when we skied together at Loveland the other day. So, what do you think about the Meidjo binding now that you’ve made a few turns?
Jim: As a shop owner, there is always something to do….always. My orders for Fall ’16 were finally dwindling down. Spring season was staring to kick in, and my schedule finally had some daylight. As I walked out of the shop that night, I eagerly yelled “Ok! Let’s get on these bad boys!”. We headed off to Monarch Mountain the next morning. It’s a great mountain, and we have a great partnership with those guys. Buttery fresh corduroy, blue skies, and mid-20’s. Talk about ideal conditions.
Tele, for me, is all about rhythm and timing. I need my tunes. The Kongos, The Black Keys, U2, AC/DC, The Who…..now I’m pumped. I drop the skis on the ground, hit the boot toe on the indicators and step down. I feel the pins engage. Drop the heel, lift the heel, and the NTN engages. I thought “Wait. That’s it? No awkward, contortionist, Twister move to flip up a heel throw? Are you kidding me!”
Its been over a year and a half since I’ve been on my tele’s, don’t ask.. 2014 was a tough year, but I’m grinning now. I asked myself “Do I remember how to do this?” I did a quick back and forth shuffle on flat ground to engage the bellows and the Meidjo. Smooth. Easy. The pitch of the run changed quickly and before I knew it, instinct took over and I made my first turns. After about a half a dozen turns, I was like “Wow. What the hell was that? Let’s try that again!” The best way to describe them – smooth and effortless, yet powerful and responsive. The feedback was incredible. And talk about control. I figured it was time to push it a little harder. Come With Me Now from The Kongos started playing in my headphones. It was perfect timing, and I dropped a knee.
Typically, its best to stay balanced when telemarking, but I find with NTN I can move the hips forward, pressure the boot more, and add more angulation. This is when the shovel engages and the carving starts – smooth, responsive, dynamic. Long turns and short turns. The ski just comes around and holds. No chatter. For me it was simple enough: more forward pressure + more resistance = more power + more control.
Alex: I’m not a tele guy, but that totally makes sense. It sounds like you are sold on the Meidjo binding. One last thing. You mentioned that M-Equipment emailed you about the new A.T. heel piece, did you ever get in touch with them in regards to being a dealer?
Jim: If you couldn’t tell, I’m a fan….a huge fan. I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back to the old 75mm, unless I’m overcome with nostalgia. I did send one (maybe more) request out to M-Equipment again after my excitement from skiing them. But yes, finally. M-Equipment now has a home in the Rocky Mountains. It only took a couple of weeks before we had them in stock. We are the only dealer in the Rockies, and only one of three in the United States. That’s a big deal.
I’m sure excited to take them out in the backcountry. I’ll let you know how they do, but I’m sure you can guess what I’ll say.
THE MEIDJO BETA:
- Pronounced “med-jo”
- Made in France by The M-Equipment
- NTN Telemark binding with Dynafit-style toe
- Lateral release, adjustable
- Free pivot tour mode
- Additional spring for tension; adjustable
- Two Sizes: S (22.5 to 26) and L (26.5 to 31)
- Price: $679 – includes free mounting