How Do Telemark Bindings Work?

How Do Telemark Bindings Work?
There are two main types of telemark bindings: three-pin bindings and cable bindings. There are also alpine touring bindings (randonnee), which have the ability to lock down as well as free the heel. However, these are not considered true telemark bindings like the three pin and cable styles.

Three-Pin Telemark Bindings

Three-pin bindings are the simplest and lightest of telemark bindings. They are so named because of the three small pins that hold down the plate of the binding, which is just a small triangular place for the tip of the skier's boot to fit into. These allow the ski boot to pivot from the toe.

Three-Pin Considerations

Three-pin bindings are used less than cable bindings today because some people have trouble with the three pins' breaking off after extensive rough use. In general, heavy and aggressive skiers, as well as beginner telemark skiers, are better off with the more durable cable bindings.

Cable Telemark Bindings

Cable telemark bindings offer more rigidity than three-pin bindings. The duckbill at the front of the telemark ski boots is held onto the front of the binding by the tension of the compression springs on the cable, which is wrapped around the back of the boot's heel. The cable gives slightly as the skier flexes the boot and lifts the heel to ski. These compression springs are usually encased in cartridges. They allow the boot to pivot from the ball of the foot.

Cable Cartridges

Different cartridges for cable telemark bindings can be purchased based on how stiff the skier prefers the bindings to be. Usually the more advanced and stronger the skier is, the stiffer the cartridges should be.


Traditional telemark bindings, no matter their exact design, are made to be nonreleasable, unlike downhill alpine bindings, which may be more dangerous in the back country. However, there are releasable telemark bindings for this purpose.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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