Thursday, October 15, 2009

Binding Placement

For a few years, Salomon and other authorities have been recommending mounting their bindings on high performance skis a centimeter behind the balance line regardless of whether it's on a skating or classical ski.

Folk wisdom had held that skate skis should be mounted neutral or tip light. Classical skis should be mounted neutral or with a slight tip drop.

As usual, it turns out to be more folked-up than you thought.

If you look around for advice on placement you get a range from dead on the balance to 1.5 centimeters back. You'd think that 1.5 cm back would make the tips thud to the snow, but that placement still makes them light at the tip.

It turns out that the weight of the binding plate has always overcome the inherent balance of the ski. The only way to make any ski tip heavy would be to mount the binding far enough back to overbalance the weight distribution of the binding itself. This generally shows up around two centimeters. We've been skiing tip light all along.

Experts advise moving the binding back to improve gliding performance. The amount is negligible, but supposedly quite noticeable. At the most, it probably won't do any harm to fudge a half or a whole centimeter back.

The only advantage to the NNN NIS plate is that neurotic or phenomenally sensitive skiers can tweak the binding forward or back to suit snow conditions and their mood. The overwhelming disadvantage, of course, is that the plate requires an NNN binding.

How about a universal plate to return binding choice to the marketplace? That way we can return to the freedom to mix and match brands instead of getting trapped in yet another monopolistic product line.