Marker Duke (and its little brother Baron) are revolutionary ski bindings. Sure, these might not be what most of us WildSnowers do big tours on, but you have to admit Marker changed the freeride scene in a big way when they introduced the Duke. Now, hardcore skiers can have an alpine binding that tours. Period. Marker makes and sells about a million pair of ski bindings a year, so they’ve got the resources for plenty of innovation. I toured their development and testing facility during a chilly day in Penzberg, Germany with engineers Markus and Robert, who were big in development of the Duke. These two guys are great, with a good sense of humor and amazing knowledge of skiing. Their resumes include working on high-end mountain bikes as well as automotive projects.
From an engineering standpoint, Markus explained that binding testing takes three forms: strength, safety, and how the binding influences how the ski performs. It’s the latter that bindings sometimes fall short with, while Marker attempts to keep a leadership position. For example, their race binding plate has an actual shock absorber built into it, for vibration damping. Duke also addresses this issue by allowing the ski to curve under the binding, as well as not having binding plates so long they stiffen the ski too much under foot.