Lets face it, thats what most skiers
boarders side slipping/grooming down the
mountain, wreaking havoc on precious bump lines and powdery chutes.
Therefore, our snowboard prototypes were getting thinner and
the stances more aggressive.
By the winter of 1996, my brother and
I had been dabbling, and for the most part, failing to produce
usable and durable hand manufactured snowboard prototypes for
two years. We ventured down a plethora of dead-end ideas like
the use of Lexan, a bullet proof plastic made by Dupont as the
framework of our boards. The stuff may be bullet proof, but it
blew up on impact in moguls. We tried odd shapes, widths, and
flexes, fashioned them in a barn on our primitive equipment,
tested them, and for the most part were disappointed with the
We both have alpine and backcountry tele experience, and a
few years earlier we began snowboarding. We both liked the oneness
the snowboard gave the rider, but we felt it had some basic flaws
that we wanted to address. Ultimately we felt the snowboard
stance held the rider hostage. Its generally awkward and
promotes side slipping. Snowboards are also very slow edge-to-edge
because of their width, making them a terrible tool in the bumps.
BIRTH OF THE TELE-BASTARD
I was living in Vermont and my brother,
Martin, in Connecticut. He came up to VT with a prototype to
test, and had made it too thin to mount typical snowboard bindings.
He was determined, however, not to have spent his time in vain.
He pulled his tele bindings off his skis and mounted them on
this sad looking prototype. Just looking at it made me nervous
for my health.
It was, frankly, butt-ugly. The bindings were
cable-less 3 pins mounted one directly behind the other (90*
like a slalom water ski), no metal edge, dimpled random plastic
base material, spray painted silver with mismatched ski poles.
Additionally, we had to test it on the only slope open in late
spring at Killington: a top to bottom blur of moguls called Superstar;
all while riding in ankle high leather lace ups. We fell a lot.
Surprisingly though, there was something sound in its design,
but it needed a lot of tweaking.
I really doubted this idea and device more
than I now care to admit. Thinking conventionally, I wasnt
sure why the free-heel was preferable over a locked position,
how well it was going to carve, or why anyone would ever want
to risk their ass getting on one. The thing that kept our focus
was the boards quickness edge to edge. It could point through
the bumps like no snowboard. We began making more in all dimensions,
widths, and lengths.
Without going into ridiculous detail on various successes/failures,
we slowly honed in on a very workable model. Along the way we
realized what really made the board work was the combination
of the telemark binding/boot, although their original designed
use couldnt have been much farther from our intended purpose.
WHY THE TELE SET UP?
On the Teleboard, like skis, you begin all turns by committing
your weight to the front foot, the board points down the hill,
and you roll weight to the next edge. On a snowboard, the same
is true. On the Teleboard, because of the free heel set up,
shifting weight and the weight roll to the back foot
in the middle part of the turn is fluid and powerful, making
it easier to lay round trenching carves on hard pack or even
ice. Also, on a snowboard, canting is used to vector the riders
weight to the center of the board. On the Teleboard because of
the ability to get weight to the center using the tele set up,
canting is unnecessary. Without the tele set up, the rider
wouldnt be able to move his weight aggressively up and
down the board, making the board extremely quick to its edges.
Also, because of the free heel, and the ease of shifting weight,
the length of the Teleboard can enter the 200 cm range and still
be very easy to handle.
HOW HARD IS IT TO LEARN?
Its not. I sometimes wish, especially in the company
of good tele skiers, that I could say it was more difficult,
but the truth is, (if you are an advanced skier) youll
be tearing it up on your 3rd run. And if youre a ripping
tele skier, perhaps on your 1st run. Everything you have learned
from alpine and tele-skiing crosses right over to the Teleboard.
These rules are the key to riding it.
Keep your back knee tucked in behind and touching your front
leg, allowing the legs to work together to enter/exit turns.
Keep your weight on your front foot when entering a turn. You
cant turn off your back foot(unless youre in powder-
then there are no rules)
Both your heels should not have weight on them, and the back
heel should be noticeably up at almost all times( once again
it doesnt matter in powder)
Upper body is just like youre skiing
quiet and fall
Keep knees bent. If youre front knee straightens up it
will shift you weight to the back seat making turning
and controlling speed difficult.
WHOS THE QUICKEST STUDY?
A person who is a high level skier or tele skier makes the
easiest transition to the board. A snowboarder without a high
level of ski skills is not as quick a study even though they
have the single-plank experience. Most snowboarders without ski
experience have sloppy upper body movement which dont cross
over well to the Teleboard. Focusing on a few tips, a skier
can be linking turns immediately and really carving soon after.
Tele skiers are probably the easiest to teach because of their
familiarity with the free-heel equipment.
WILL RIDING THIS THING RUIN MY SKIING?
Ive been told by a lot of people who switch between
sliding toys that riding it has done good things for their ability
to feel and hold an edge on their tele skis, especially when
it comes to skiing hard pack. And Ive known a few who
switch stances on the board to work their weaker side as well,much
like the mono-mark exercise.
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED?
Until we had our first season of demoing and selling boards,
we didnt know how safe or dangerous the Teleboard was.
Four years later 5-6000 people have been on it and there literally
have been no notable injuries and the falls are almost always
slide-outs and painless. Im not saying its not possible
to get hurt, it just seems highly unlikely, and as a bonus, its
very gentle on knees.
Snowboarders also have very few lower-body injuries because
their legs can never go separate ways, however, because of the
sideways stance and a potential for catching that phantom
edge, the upper body (wrists, arms, ass-bone, neck and
back) can take a beating. Apparently, and by dumb-luck may I
add, the Teleboard has none of these shortcomings. The very
steep angle (75*) of the binding gives the rider almost no chance
at catching an edge, and when a fall does happen, the free-heel
set up allows the body to go where it will, without jarring joints.
This is perhaps the biggest irony to the Teleboard; It looks
difficult to learn, and isnt, and it looks like a death
wish, and might be the safest thing on the snow next to an inner
One thing to note about the Teleboard is that it is NOT for
the out-of-shape or plump. Especially when learning on the first
day or two, the rider will put out some energy trying to nail
the subtleties of the turn, and a skier with a beer or twinkie
gut will feel it in the quads. The first day can be tiring for
anyone, especially the aforementioned.
WHY NOT JUST SNOWBOARD?
It may be a mistake to admit to this audience, but I spent
5 years riding and instructing snowboarding. I took a rash of
crap from my snowboard contemporaries when we were prototyping
the Teleboard, for even daring to believe that the snowboard
design was potentially faulty and that maybe there was something
else that could compare. Honestly though, in the beginning it
didnt look good. Within two years it was clear to us that
the snowboard was clumsy and slow compared to the quicker, sleeker,
more user friendly Teleboard and its also typically learned
at a rate 5-10 times faster than learning to snowboard.
On the East Coast we have the best snow that man can make
(not bragging). However, this stuff is unreal for laying out
the deep trenches and it holds up like densely packed chalk on
a cold morning. Coming off a hard-plate (racing) snowboard set
up, I would have never believed anything else could carve a more
euphoric turn. However, being locked in place on a snowboard
limits the riders range of motion fore and aft and makes
the transition edge to edge less fluid. Freeing the heels puts
the riders weight on the toe-box, and the stiffer plastic
tele boot gives great lateral rigidity and support when pushing
the limit in the carve. With speed, you can go shoulder to the
snow on both edges like a slalom water skier.
Initially, riding the bumps, was the driving force behind
the development of this skinnier board. You can point the Teleboard
down a steep narrow bump line trodden only by skiers for two
reasons. Its thin and can make the quick edge transition
needed in the bumps, and you ride (most anyway) with poles, so
you can time you upper body to the terrain and your feet. Some
find they ride the board better through the bumps than they did
their skis because of its simplicity and the fact that you never
have to worry about crossing your tips. THE POWDER
Nothing sucks in powder (except for maybe those midget skis).
The Teleboard is a total no-brainer, and floats well. Just lay
back, pick up the nose, and float. It makes mince meat of that
pesky backcountry wind-crust too.
Erik, right, and his brother Martin preparing for
the first teleboard descent of Mt. Washington.
GOING INTO THE BC
The Teleboarder will have to play catch up. However, if
youre determined there are a couple options. First, if
its a slog, some have kept their front foot in the board
and put a snowshoe on the other. This gives great flotation for
light climbing and ridge lines. It sounds stupid but it apparently
works well. All other options involve putting it on your back
and taking your choice of available options.
On that note; Im forced to mention a prototype 200cm
model that splits into slightly odd looking tele skis and snaps
together to make one big powder board. (patent granted) I have
not tried it yet, and cant tell much more except that with
any luck it may be available next season, possibly this season
MODELS AND DIMENSIONS
The two models are the AMT (all mtn)
181 and the Pursuit 191. The 181 is a great all around size with
a very deep side cut for carving. It is also very quick to its
edges, and a good length to run moguls. The 191 is quite a bit
beefier with wider dimensions for powder and more aggressive,
bigger riders. This board is notably fast and stable and holds
a big, deep carve.
If you want the opportunity to try out a Teleboard
or want to know more about it, check out the teleboardusa.com
site. Free demos with lessons are offered by demo teams, there
are mountains that rent them and demo programs too. If you need
an excuse, you can just tell your friends youre having
a mid-life crisis. Any comments or suggestions from your experience
Teleboard NH (603)487-5266
All Photos Courtesy of Erik Fey
yahoo clubs teleboardusa