The Future Of Telemark? TwentyTwo Designs’ New NTN Binding

Is telemark dying? Chris Valiante and the binding builders at TwentyTwo Designs say no chance. That’s why they recently announced a licensing agreement with Rottefella in order to build their own NTN bindings. New NTN options from TwentyTwo may not be available for at least another year, but the Driggs, Idaho-based company was offering a sneak preview of their yet-to-be-named binder at last month’s Outdoor Retailer trade show.

Chris Collins with his NTN prototype binding. [Photo] Tyler Cohen

Chris Valiante with his NTN prototype binding. [Photo] Tyler Cohen

Backcountry: You shipped the last Hammerhead binding a few weeks ago. How did that feel?

Chris Valiante: It’s bittersweet. It’s been a good binding to us. Ten years ago, the binding we originally bought from Russell Rainey was the Hammerhead. It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing it for 10 years now, but we felt like it was time to move on with the Axl and the Vice.

BCM: And you’ll still be carrying parts for the Hammerhead, right?

CV: We will. There’s a lot of Hammerheads out there, and we want to keep parts in stock for at least a few years to support those folks who are skiing the binding.

BCM: Tell me about the licensing agreement with Rottefella.

CV: We just signed a licensing agreement that we’re pretty excited about. We’ve got a couple different NTN designs in the line that we’re working on. One is a true step-in, has a true free pivot and has the adjustable activeness that people are used to with our bindings.

The step-in, releasable, to-be-named NTN. [Photo] Tyler Cohen

The step-in, releasable, to-be-named NTN. [Photo] Tyler Cohen

BCM: What’s the timeline for a TwentyTwo NTN binding becoming available?

CV: Fall 2015 is the plan. There’s another binding that we’re working on with a tech-fitting toe for a true Dynafit-style tour mode.

BCM: So do you think NTN systems and tech systems are the future of what people will be telemarking on?

CV: Yea. I think 75mm will be around for a long time. We plan on selling the Axl and Vice for a long time. They’re great bindings, but the NTN offers additional features that you really can’t get with a 75mm binding like step-in, like releasability and like a tech-fitting-style tour binding.

BCM: And having more options available to the NTN skier can’t hurt either.

CV: Yea. We want to have the best bindings for both systems, so that’s the direction we’re heading.

Comments

  1. Lance Tichenor says:

    I have the Rotefella Freeride NTN. 2 to 3 problems vex me. Really vex me.
    1st: Skiing Washington snow is different from Wyoming powder. Compacted snow build-up underfoot prevents a functional heel return. From this it also tweaks the binding with a levering action, thus prying the binding off the ski. This requires getting out of the binding to clear snow.
    2nd: The accumulation of snow underfoot also has frozen my ski brakes into de-activation, thus rendering braking as a theory only. They get frozen in the “up” position. One good fall with release would be devastating with a run-away ski (I now leash the ski).
    3rd: Several times the Freeride has jumped into tour mode after strong boot bellows flex. This always happens at the crux of a powerful turn where there can be no accidental deviation from the arc. Galling! I have made sure the tab which actuates the tele mode is down, down as far as it can go flat. This is no guarantee that tour mode will be avoided at all costs. I have found myself skiing the toe piece straight up like in Silverettas of yore. So, if these three things are engineered out of your NTN bindings, if compactable snow does not build up underfoot, if ski brakes are functional/reliable, if tour-mode is held at bay when I really don’t want it, I will buy your product. Period.
    As a last ditch effort to save my Rotefellas I have embarked on development of a thin,durable fabric which goes between the ski and the tension plate underfoot, an effective semi elastic bellows which clears all snow when the heel comes up, tucks underfoot when the heel goes down. 1/4 ounce. Conformity to the binding is a bitch unless you screw the binding over the fabric, thus pinning it to the ski. Thanks for your effort to maintain inquiry into product designs.

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