The alpine ski binding is a technical bit of kit and, as a skier, it’s important to understand a little bit about how it works.
The ideal binding is one that releases when you want it to and stays on when you don’t, and much innovation has gone into their design over the years in pursuit of this aim. There are different makes and models but overall they all do pretty much the same thing. There are release mechanisms at the toe and heel which allow the ski boot to come out if too much pressure is applied in a sideways or forwards direction. Both are spring-loaded and the tightness of the springs is adjusted according to the weight and ability of the skier as well as other factors including boot length, height and age.
Some ski rental shops will ask you for these details and others might just size you up as you walk in so it’s worth having an idea of your own setting. Have a look at www.dinsetting.com as a guide and remember that the higher the number, the more pressure will be needed for the bindings to release.
If you fall and your skis don’t come off, the pressure can be transmitted to your body and cause injuries. However, a ski that comes off when you’re intentionally skiing bumps, jumps or powder can be equally dangerous or, in the latter case, may result in a lost ski and a tricky journey back to resort.
The distance between ski bindings is generally adjustable and this has to be done properly for the DIN setting to correspond correctly. If you have the DIN set accurately but your bindings are a few millimetres too far apart, the boots will twist out more easily than desired. Bindings usually have a visual guide to show the correct set up when the boot is in the binding so if you don’t know about this then it’s best to get a professional to check it. For this reason if you change your boots it’s important to check that the bindings are adjusted correctly so that the DIN release setting is still accurate.
The brakes are another important part of the ski binding. If they stop springing into action automatically when you step out of your bindings you should get them checked or replaced. A loose ski running down the mountain can be a dangerous projectile as well as an expensive loss.