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.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.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.