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Ski Bindings

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Bindings anchor the ski to the skier by holding the skier's boot in place. They usually are sold separately from the ski itself, and require expert installation. Accordingly, when you see a price quoted for skis, be sure to understand whether or not bindings are included. If the bindings are indeed sold separately, ask what the installation cost is.

Bindings are a crucial safety device that protects you in a fall or if a ski snags or twists out of control. Bindings are designed to release the boot from the ski and thereby reduce the chance of serious injury to your ankles and legs. All the better models release the boot when a given level of stress is exceeded. Accordingly, you should be willing to pay for quality bindings. Also, you should have your bindings tested during your periodic "tune-ups."

Here are some tips for buying bindings:

  • Binding settings are as much an art as a science. The heavier you weigh and the more aggressively you can safely ski, the higher the binding's stress threshold is set (otherwise, your skis may inadvertently come off). Consequently, bindings must be adjusted for each user. Technicians at ski shops have tables that help them determine the appropriate setting for you. While hardly foolproof, the basic theory is that the less skilled a skier you are, the more likely it is that a given level of stress between the ski and the boot indicates that you are out of control and in danger of injury if the ski is not released.
  • Be sure that whatever binding you select is compatible with the boots that you wear. While the vast majority of boots and bindings are made in a standard configuration, some are not. The technician at the ski shop also has to adjust the binding to size of your boot.

In addition to bindings, it may be advisable to consider devices that prevent runaway skis. Without one, a ski may slide far down the mountain if it releases from your boot. Not only does this present a major problem for you in getting down the mountain and recovering it, but a runaway ski can be a hazard to other skiers. A common runaway ski device is a line attached to the ski that also loops around your lower leg. If the binding releases, the ski breaks free of your boot but remains tethered to your leg after sliding for a foot or so. Other designs include small prongs that project out from the skiing surface if the binding is released; these prongs act to catch the snow and stop the ski.

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