Updated 25oct13: More info on NTN below.
First American 2-pin Tech ToeOlympus Mountain Gear has managed to scrap together the resources to build the first American made tech toe for their TTS binding. Existing manufacturers were unwilling to sell tech toe units to OMG. As Oliver Steffen, president of G3 explained, the problem comes down to liability and whether or not a product is being used as intended. Those boundaries are strictly defined and there isn’t enough money at stake to add the use of a cable around the heel or the NTN heel. Perhaps that is about to change. So far, the fastest way to implement TTS is to cannibalize an existing Dynafit binding from your own quiver, or get a pair used, then add the cable system.
According to Mark Lengel, the man behind TTS, the bigger factor in creating his own toe was old fashioned capitalist economics. Buying toes from other manufacturers might work in a pinch, but in the long run manufacturing his own toes was the only way to keep the binding price realistic.
Speaking of G3, they have a crazy campaign to reward anyone who submits evidence of how insanely committed to skiing they are. Click on one of their ads on this site and you can check out the rules. Winners get some nice G3 products; skis, bindings, skins, the basic stuff for earning turns.
Rottefella has begun negotiations to license the use of the 2nd heel to two manufacturers in North America. Mums the word on who, but it is a short list of who might be capable. Consider that Black Diamond is able but unwilling and the list grows ever shorter. Pick two of who remains, 22 Designs, G3, or Voile, and you’ll be right on at least one count. Indeed, there are two others, Bomber Industries and Burnt Mountain Designs, but those are boutique manufacturers who are unlikely to have the production capacity that Rottefella is looking for.
In the meantime, according to Rottefella’s marketing manager, Torstein Myklebosted, sales of NTN bindings have grown steadily, reaching 10,000 units [ordered] for this season. When telemark skiing was hot G3 and Rainey Designs each sold this many units per year so this is a good sign of health for telemark equipment sales, though it does not substantiate SIA’s claim of more than 2-million active telemark skiers in the USA.
Another less evident but nonetheless encouraging sign was Scott’s decision to license NTN, suggesting their intent to continue making telemark boots, including NTN compatible boots. Let’s hope they’re serious enough to also add tech fittings the Voodoo NTN next year.
BD’s Jetforce introduced
Black Diamond officially announced their Jetforce airbag concept at ISSW last week. Instead of using compressed gas, BD proposes an electric fan to fill the bag, with lithium ion batteries to spin the wheels. Lou Dawson had the privilege of an early peek at the design. It looks and sounds awesome, so what’s the catch? Maybe nothing except a big threat to existing technologies.
BCA recalls old triggers
Speaking of, there’s another recall underway in the world of airbag packs. Backcountry Access changed their trigger connection hardware this year because a snap-ring might become dislodged. This only affects Float packs shipped prior to June 2013, and only those who mishandle the existing hardware and pop the ring off. If you’re concerned, get the upgrade. Otherwise, double check the trigger on the Float and don’t worry about it.