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Stupid question that I've been dying to know the answer to...

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
What's the difference between.
1. Alpine Ski Bindings, (Have these know about them)
2. Randonee Bindings,
3. Telemark Bindings,
4. AT Bindings.

Thanks for any help. This is just kind of one of those questions that would have eentually killed me had I not asked it.
post #2 of 7
Well, an alpine binding is obviously fixed at both points allowing no boot movement excepting for normal forward (and rear if you have a pair of sissy boots with a walk setting [img]tongue.gif[/img] ) flex. Heel and toe are locked down , and the boot is stiff in both directions with little flex forward and none sideways.

Telemark (also known as free-heeling) is binding that uses a soft boot with unlimited fore-aft flex, but with excellent side to side flex. these clamp in at the toe, and incorporate a strap (usually) that goes around the back which holds the boot in to the to piece but doesn't actually hinder you from picking your heel up from the binding. This is a completely differnt animal than alpine skiing requiring complelely different skis, techniques and boots. It is reminiscant of old school cross country skiing in that the foot flexes forward and the heel lifts up in every turn like you would when you are normally walking.

Randonee binding is asimiliar concept to alpine bindings and generally uses the same technique and control as alpine skiing, but with good backcountry maneuvarability as in telemark. You can unlock the heel piece fom the ski to make climbing easier, but lock the heel back down when you are ready to descend. These use a softer than normal randonee boot which is designed to be more comfortable for sweating up a hill than for performance while ripping down it. The boot is allowed to actually flex forward when skinning up a hill (alluding to the practice of putting an animal skin on the ski base when climbing up hill to keep the ski from sliding back down after every step) which allows greater comfort than hiking in alpine boots.

Lastly are AT bindings which are similiar in concept to Randonee except that you use normal alpine boots and the entire binding is on a plate which pivots upwards with each step from a hinge at the toe. It allows the use of superior performing, yet less comfortable alpine boots. The binding is stiff and will not allow the boot to flex to give greater comfort, and when you reach the top of the hill, you lock the heal don, (as in randonee) and ski down alpine style

Hope this helps. If I am inaccurate in some aspect, someone please correct me.
post #3 of 7
Karsten is correct, except that I think that today most people use the terms randonnee and AT interchangeably. One additional point is that there are several different AT systems, and not all AT boots are compatible with all of them. The latest thing in the AT world is the Fritschi Diamar and Freeride bindings, which can be used with most AT boots, but also with alpine boots (although I have heard different opinions as to how reliable release is with alpine boots in these- the soles of the boots are different. AT boots have rubber lugged soles like climbing boots). You are seeing a lot more of these even in the resorts in the west as people use the lifts to access more back country terrain.
post #4 of 7
There's an interesting website (there are more, but this shows the telemark end of you q
http://www.telemarktips.com/UTB.html details on the binding. There's a pic which shows the toe piece and the heel strap.

Up until the sixties and early seventies, the strap was fastened with a lever in front of the toe piece. You can study this in ski resort's restaurants and bars where they often have old skies on display. I started on this when i was a kid and still remember when i finally got my first pair of skies with safety (=alpine) bindings. I still remember this as the luckiest day of my life at the time .
post #5 of 7
Thanks jpfeiffer,
Just when I thought we'd sen vevery way to stick a boot to a ski. something completely new and a marked improvement comes out.
post #6 of 7
I'll add just a bit of curioisty info.
The "animal skin" Karsten talk about are, in Italian, called
"pelli di foca" which translates into Seal skins
post #7 of 7
Just to underscore the drama: The safety bindings had been out for awhile already, all the other kids where zipping around with safety bindings. Only i was stuck with the old stuff for i believe two seasons, because my dad wouldn't believe the Voodoo magic of the new bindings was any good at all. With the old system you could actually see everything, no hidden release mechanics! Third year when i had grown out of the old, there was none of the traditional equipment available any more. Lucky me! Bad for my little sister, i think she had to skid a season on the old sticks [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
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