Saturday, 29 November 2008

Binding safety

I said a couple of posts back that I was going to cover bindings and safety in the near future. I mentioned that if you loosened your bindings in the spring then it is important to tighten them again before going skiing. The big proviso of course is to make sure you tighten them to the same setting they were on before.

Adjusting your bindings is something you should only do if you know what you are doing - if you don't then leave it to your local ski shop to do. The important number is the DIN setting, which is a measure of how tight the binding is, or how difficult it is for it to release in a fall. If the DIN setting is low the bindings will release easily, with a high setting it will take a lot more to make them release. The idea is that the bindings release your boot from the ski before you injure your leg, but don't release prematurely when you are not at risk of injury. A binding releasing unexpectedly, or pre-releasing, can lead to injury as well. Setting the DIN will always be a compromise, as a low speed fall can break a leg or twist a knee whilst applying lower forces to the binding than skiing bumps at high speed for example. Each manufacturer produces a chart to determine the correct setting for a skier, taking into account variables such as skier height, weight, ability, style of skiing and boot sole length. Once you know your setting you should aim to buy a binding with that number close to the centre of its range, rather than at one extreme or the other.

Skiers often set the heel bindings tighter than the toepiece, because they believe they will put greater forces on the heelpiece when skiing. However the binding manufacturers are well aware of how people ski, and the heelpiece springs are much tighter than the toepiece ones already so toe and heel should always be set the same.

The DIN setting will only work accurately if the binding is adjusted properly for the boot. Boot sole length and forward pressure have to be correct for the binding to release as it should, and these are adjusted and checked differently for each make of binding. This is another reason to let a shop adjust your bindings for you unless you are sure you know what you are doing.

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