Eric Hjorleifson holds the Dynafit Mercury on the left and on the right is his frankenboot Titan that started it all.
On November 23, Eric “Hoji “ Hjorleifson gave a talk titled “The Evolution of Touring Gear” at the The Escape Route is a longtime Whistler locals' backcountry gear hangout and a fine place to display Hoji's art. In the top picture from L to R: modified Titan, frankenTLT5, Dynafit Mercury and Dynafit One. The Vulcan is in short supply and the only pair the shop had were bought that very day.
LL: There was quite a stir when Dynafit took you on in 2011 and then made it long term in 2012. How did you come to meet Dynafit and then ultimately they become comfortable enough for them to take you on in an official capacity?
EH: It started out here at this store. Escape Route was a Hoji with the modified TLT5 Performance on picture left. Matty Richard is Hoji's skiing partner in arms on picture right.
LL: Speaking of stiff boots, I'm 160 lbs. You're about the same weight. Matty is also not a big guy. It seems a little crazy that people are now “complaining” that the Vulcan is too stiff, given that for so long the internet skiers have been asking for a stiff boot. What do you think about the Vulcan versus the Mercury?
EH: I was just talking to Julian (Stoddard - the Dynafit rep) about this. It's almost the case that guys our size can't really stress gear out the way that bigger guys can. Mass matters. I do think it’s kind of funny that people are now saying the Vulcan is too stiff. It's got the kind of crazy lateral stiffness that I like because my skiing style is to really carve hard and move laterally - something that probably comes from the racing background.
Right now I'm on prototype Mercurys, and I'd say that almost all the time it's perfect for me. Everyone's different though. They have different sized bodies. Different ski styles and ski in different conditions. Of course, there's also a big difference in price between the boots so I'd say that it's good to have choices.
LL: Some people are modifying the Vulcan/Mercury. For example some people are modifying the tongue so it can be more easily removed in the uphill/downhill transistion. How much do you still tinker with gear?
EH: I don't think I'll every stop modifying gear! I'm never happy. Whenever you think something's perfect you'll find some way to improve it. The difference now, though, is that I've got the company behind me and lots of people - very experienced people - to use as sounding boards, and to bounce ideas back and forth. It's a huge advantage to have support. I can't talk much about what's in the works, but wait till next year. I know – it’s ridiculous that this season has just started and we're already talking like that.
One example mod for the Vulcan/Mercury is the James McSkimming modification (right) which is to cut off the square tab from the external hard plastic tongue thus making the tongue easier to remove. Keep the tongue on for the downhills and take it off for the uphills for free-floating stride.
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Lee Lau is an avid skier and outdoorsman embarking on many adventures with his loving, and sometimes concerned wife, Sharon. He has over 15 years of experience skiing, ski-touring and dabbles in mountaineering. In the “off-season” he is occasionally found working in his day job as an intellectual property lawyer when he is not mountain biking. As a resident of Whistler and Vancouver, British Columbia, Lee's playground extends mainly to Western Canada, including South West B.C. and the Selkirk.