Scarpa North America Blog

A brief history of the SCARPA T1, heir to the original plastic telemark ski boot

Jan. 10th 2013

When it hit the market in fall 1992, the SCARPA Terminator changed the game in telemark skiing. The world’s first plastic tele boot, the Terminator improved performance, durability and protection from the elements, not to mention changed people’s ideas about how backcountry-skiing gear could and should work.

Davide Parisotto

Direct heir to the Terminator, today’s SCARPA T1 telemark ski boot is still regarded as the vanguard in plastic telemark boots. That’s a distinguished pedigree. And – while there’s been a lot of progression and design upgrades over the years to continue to improve performance in the T1 (keep on reading for what they are) and all of the Terminator-series boots – it’s interesting, and amazing, how much the original Terminator got right more than 20 years ago when it first hit the market.

The current 2013 T1 is still one of the most sought-after performance telemark ski boots in the world. Used by progressive tele skiers like like Jake Sakson and Paul Kimbrough, the T1 sets the bar for all-around performance in four-buckle 75 mm telemark boots. SCARPA has also evolved the T1 into a boot that works for the new Rottefella NTN binding system, the Terminator X Pro.

Today, plastic telemark boots are the norm. Few would consider using anything else. Which is interesting to consider just how much of a shift it’s been when you look at the landscape just over 20 years ago, just before the original Terminator hit the market.

While developing the original Terminator was a collaborative process that involved a lot of people in many different countries, Davide Parisotto could easily be singled out as the person who, more than anyone else, made the project happen. Davide is one of five members of the Parisotto family who today own SCARPA, son of Luigi Parisotto who first had the idea on how to build a plastic tele boot, and head of SCARPA R+D for many years based out of the company’s Asolo, Italy, headquarters. The fact that SCARPA has arguably the most innovative ski-boot injection molding facility in the world is a direct result of Davide’s passion for footwear development. We asked him a few questions about today’s category-defining T1, and its predecessor, the Terminator.

SCARPA T1

What was the most popular telemark boot in the marketplace before the Terminator? They were leather boots, boots like the Merrell SuperComp and Asolo Snowfield.

Where did the idea of a plastic telemark boot come from? There were only leather boots for skiing telemark to that point. My father, Luigi, saw the rubber covering of shock absorbers of cross motorbikes, and got the idea to create a sort of stress-resistant bellow that would allow a plastic boot to bend the way that would be needed for telemarking. We began working with a number of other people, and a lot in the North American market, to pursue that idea.

What drove the need for a plastic telemark boot? Performance, especially in terms of torsional stability due to the technique level reached by the skiers at that time. And the durability of the boots. We wanted to get a boot that would last more than one season compared to a classic leather boots. Also, impermeability against water and snow compared to leather.

How long did it take from the concept to production of the first product line of Terminator boots? And what was the most challenging or frustrating moment in the development process? Two years. The biggest challenge for sure was creating a bellows in the shell that worked naturally and mimicked the way the foot bends.

Overall, was the project more or less challenging than you thought back in the concept phase? It was incredibly challenging, but today all telemark boots still work based on the initial concept. The only major change to the basic design from any brand was in 1996 when SCARPA introduced an asymmetrical bellows design.

How many times did you travel back and forth from the U.S. to Italy during the development of the Terminator? Many, many times, and there were many people involved. That was a big chapter in my life.

Where did the name Terminator come from? Why did that name suit this project? The name was designed to signify the closing of an era, the old-style leather boots, and to open a new story with the plastic boots.

What’s the biggest difference between the T1 today and the original Terminator? We have introduced some key features like the asymmetrical bellows, anti-torsion bar, improved the plastic material, begun to use bi-injection technology with different densities of Pebax, and also the thermoformable liners.

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