Crashing? Less Fun? --Check Your Binding!
January 25, 2012
My skis have been throwing me more and more. I was wondering what was the matter. I have an idea -- they're kinda soft in the tails and that's a bit of a problem. But it turns out there's something else that was also a really big snag.
I've been using Automatic NNN bindings more often lately. Why not, right?
Well, I suddenly noticed that they seemed loose -- there was some slop in the boot-toe when I lifted the ski. Clunk-clunk, it had, what, a 1/5" of play. Out at the tip that means 1"+. You might think you're mostly ON your skis when you're handling them, but you're not. You're moving them around. You NEED them to go EXACTLY where you point them. Or you'll crash. Or at least feel like something is "off."
I took a boot around to all my skis and, sure enough, the binding-slop varied a lot with the binding. Not all bindings are alike, by any means! Some probably get worse with use and age. All my bindings are somewhat different from each other -- by function, by year, by stickered-brand.
I noticed that my old ultralight manual racing bindings were the tightest by far. A newer set of manual racing bindings were the next tightest. Because they were on rollerskis I was happy to swap them for the ones on my "daily driver" touring skis. (Now, watch me start crashing on my rollerskis!) ...I didn't want to fiddle with my best race bindings on my sweet old race skis, but, really, I wish I could've used my very tightest bindings for my most-often-used skis. It only makes sense.
And, ya know what? I don't think it was a coincidence that I didn't CRASH ON ANY DOWNHILLS AT THE POTTO RAID THIS YEAR! ...FOR THE FIRST TIME!
I might be onto something. I used to never crash. I enjoyed ANY downhill. Then I started using auto-bindings. I never considered it to be a serious weak link. But I started crashing fairly often. I mostly blamed my new softer skis. I still think the skis could be "crisper," but I'm happy with my current binding set-up.
Maybe manuals are all we need. It would be nice to see a tight auto, though. I see there's a new race binding out there that also seems smart. The boot-bar is usually held in the middle by the binding-grabber. The new race binding now has a hook that grabs the boot-bar on either end. Seems tighter to me! ...Seems like it would benefit more than just racers. (They say it's lots lighter, too -- 40%!) But, rats, it looks like it only installs on the new "system" skis. Hmmm, maybe there's a work-around.
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