Scarpa Tornado blurs line between A/T and alpine |

Scarpa Tornado blurs line between A/T and alpine

Catherine Lutz

Remember the days when there was a true distinction between alpine skiers, telemarkers, backcountry skiers and snowboarders? The gear was radically different – for example, super-skinny tele skis with three-pin bindings and leather boots – and nobody would be caught dead doing one of the other sports. Now, just about everyone is proud to be a multi-winter sport athlete (except for a few curmudgeons on Aspen Mountain). And with innovations in gear, it’s that much easier (though admittedly more expensive) to do so.

Designed in Europe for the increasingly popular practice of riding lifts to reach off-piste skiing, the Scarpa Tornado is a ski boot that blurs the lines between straight alpine skiing and alpine touring. It resembles a classic A/T boot – lightweight, rubber sole, a strap and buckle across the bend between foot and ankle – but it’s the first boot to also fit in regular alpine ski bindings without any modifications. And that’s huge for skiers who struggle to afford boots for each winter sport.

Retailing at $649, Tornados aren’t cheap, but they’re innovative boots. They promise sufficient rigidity with no extra weight, by using less material in less essential areas (the gray parts), relying on sort of a stiff skeleton (the black parts). There are two changeable tongues: One is articulated for touring, the other stiff for skiing. And they have different forward lean settings to go uphill, downhill or horizontal.I tried it each way, and was duly impressed. I had doubts when I set off down the bumps on Aspen Mountain, but the light and flexible Scarpas definitely held their own. I probably wouldn’t wear the Tornados, however, for the bump-off down the Ridge on closing day.

Going uphill (even though it was just Tiehack), they really excelled. The flexibility combined with the custom-fitted, heat-molded liner meant that not even the hot spot on my heel was bothered in an hour of skinning. My only complaint is that they’re too roomy in the foot box, but that’s probably because it’s a men’s boot (there is no ladies’ version yet). And they sure loved cruising down the fresh corduroy with an inch of powder on top. According to Scarpa media representative Dave Simpson, “In the world of A/T boots the Tornados are on the heavier end of things. They’re for people looking for a combination of performance and tour-ability. For an alpine skier used to a rigid boot, this boot will feel softer, but mostly people are pretty happy.”The Scarpa Tornado happens to be on sale at the Ute Mountaineer now for $550 – until it runs out.

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