Vice, Axl, HammerHead, Bombshell, Outlaw, Outlaw X, Lynx. They’re bindings you’ve seen on the boots of telemark skiers in mountains from Japan to Squaw Valley to Austria. 22 Designs has been a leader in the telemark binding industry for an impressive 15 years with the same two strong leaders the entire time.
Chris Valiante started skiing when he was five in Jackson, Wyoming and it didn’t take long for the sport to become the foundation for his life. While studying engineering at Clarkson University in the late 90’s, Valiante met Collins Pringle, a native of Homer, New York. Pringle had been skiing since age three and the two became fast friends, sharing a love for engineering and skiing. “Somewhere around 2000, we both learned to telemark in the Adirondacks so we would be ready for Y2K,” Pringle laughed. Their preparation for Y2K proved obsolete following December 31, 1999 but the pair would soon find themselves designing bindings for the same sport that would have saved them from the world wide computer crash.
In the summer of 2003, Valiante moved back to Jackson for an internship with Rainey Designs, the original producer of the HammerHead, to redesign the HammerHeel climber. That fall, Russell Rainey decided he wanted to sell the HammerHead. “I called Collins and told him to get out to Jackson as soon as possible and we made Rainey a deal. Collins and I had been planning a trip to Argentina and ended up down there for November and December of 2003, all the while haggling out the details with Rainey via email at some of Argentina’s finest dial-up internet cafes,” Valiante explained. They took over the following February, 2004.
In 2006, Valiante and Pringle moved 22 Designs from Jackson to the Teton Valley. Here they found a welcoming telemark community, a smaller town, and a slower pace. Moving the business to Driggs, Idaho allowed them both to start families and focus on the things in life that mattered most to them. Their path to success hasn’t always been easy; there’s a lot of stresses and challenges when dealing with parts, production, and timelines. “Tele skiers are generally such a great community to deal with. They tend to be very interesting, patient people who live in cool places around the world. In just the last month, we’ve received packages with baked goods, beer, and a comical life history letter. It’s fun to help people get out on the snow,” Valiante said in response to challenges.
This year 22 Designs’ newest binding, the Lynx, hit the market. Pringle and Valiante are stoked to finally see the binding out in the wild as it has been a long road. The two have been working on composite plate designs for over 12 years and they wanted to test it as much as they could before introducing it to the world. “Over the last few years, we came up with the claw mechanism and refined that as well as the tech toe components,” Valiante said. “Variations of Tele-Tech bindings were simmering on the back burner the whole time we were working on the Outlaw and the Outlaw X, so it felt good to finally focus on it and make it happen.”
One of the most impressive elements of 22 Designs is their commitment to the environment. “Every binding we produce is made in the USA with the most durable materials and designed to last a lifetime. Our office, R&D, and assembly shop are powered by renewable energy, offset with Green-e certified Renewable Energy Certificates and Carbon Offsets from the Bonneville Environmental Foundation,” the website boasts. Even still, Pringle claims his proudest moments of telemark skiing come whenever he makes a telemark turn without face planting.