Ties that Bind: Your Skiing Safety Net
Ever spend a week's ski vacation stuck in front of the fire with your leg wrapped in a cast? If you're like the overwhelming majority of today's skiers, the answer is an emphatic NO. And the folks you can thank for sparing you from this most venerable of skiing clichés are the manufacturers of ski bindings.
No piece of equipment is more important to your skiing safety than your bindings. And the progress made over the last 25 years in bindings is nothing short of phenomenal. Once little more than a set of leather straps that bound your feet to your skis (hence the name bindings), ski bindings today are truly high-tech instruments that "sense" when too much pressure is on your body -- and safely eject you from your skis.
Still, poorly adjusted bindings can drive you crazy. For liability purposes, rentals are often set so loose that your skis go flying off if you merely look sideways at a tree. And hard-core "Racer Bob" will want to crank them on so tight that you could end up separated from your own limbs in a minor fall.
Like most issues in ski equipment, the key is to have the right piece of equipment, and the right fit, for your particular skill level and type of skiing. Today's bindings offer you an incredible range of options - the key is to make sure that the fit and adjustment are right for you.
Marvelous as they are, however, today's bindings are more than simple safety devices. They now have the ability to affect the way you ski, and the way you feel the snow underfoot. Some can give you "lift," others will correct your posture. And some can even amplify your own energy, giving you more power and control. Here's a look at some of the latest:
Tyrolia Power Select 8: Introduced last season and updated for 1998-99, the Power Select series features a novel switch system allowing you to choose from three different settings on demand: "Grip" pushes the tip and tail down, for more power; "turn" pulls them up for more control; and "Neutral" is, well, neutral.
List price: $325.
Marker M9.1 Turbo SC: A finely adjusted piston smoothes out bumps and vibration, while three settings (similar to the Tyrolia Select 8) offers versatility. Marker is known for high-tech racing equipment, but this binding will please any freerider or all-terrain skier as well.
List price: $395.
Rossignol FKX Pro R-Flex: Unlike some of its competitors, Rossi believes the best binding is the one you don't notice. You can trust this top-of-the-line set, which is designed for a smooth ride with a lifted alignment to increase power.
List price: $380.
Salomon S900 Carbon: A reasonably priced but technically solid binding, the S900 is aimed at intermediate skiers. Comfortable and secure.
List price: $265.
Atomic Centro 412: Another good value for beginning and intermediate skiers, the Centro is marked by ease-of-adjustment and an error-correction system that keeps the bindings from opening when the skier simply crosses tips - not that that ever happens!
List price: $265.
The typical ski shop carries a wide assortment of bindings and will help you select the right one for your level and budget. See our outfitters page to find a shop near your favorite resort destination.
Don't forget to read about our reviews on boots and skis too!