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Binding Setting and Selection Question

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I am getting back into skiing after several years absence raising two young boys (who are ready to hit the mountain themselves). Here's my problem/dilemma. In 1983 I had a total left knee recontruction (ACL and Cartilage), and I have always since worn a brace for soccer, basketball, and water and snow skiiing. I'd say I'm a strong level 7 skier maybe low level 8 (can ski everything comfortably except the steep bowls with those mongo tear drop moguls--of which Oregon west side has lots--although I can get down them--I'm probably in your way when I do so). I love bumps, and am most comfortable on challenging blue runs and easier black diamonds, and can ski both types of runs aggressively. I turn a lot, but I don't tend to ski fast (I turn a lot to control speed). I'm 43 years old, 6'2", and 225 pounds (fatherhood and a wife who loves to cook did that--coupled with a lack of self-control). Because of my knee, I've always set my bindings really light to guarantee release. Having confidence in knowing I'll release mentally allows me to ski more aggressively and push the envelope a little more. However, I tend to hop out of my bindings quite a bit, especially in the moguls or if I catch an edge in the steeps and try to power out of and recover from an impending fall. I just purchased some Dynastar 178 skicross 9 skis which came with Look NX-11 bindings. I purchased Nordica Beast 10 (80 flex) boots which fit like a glove--kind of flexy, but my thought was that little extra flex could possibly absorb some knee torque in a forward twisting fall (I've read the threads here about boot flex and note most of you are in favor of 100-110 flex index boots). Anyway, when I went to get the bindings mounted at a local ski shop, I was told that they were required to set my bindings in light of my weight and ski ability and could not deviate for liability reasons. So after this long introduction, here're my questions: (1) Should I invest in a better/different binding or is the Look NX-11 a good safe and appropriate binding for me--if you recommend a different binding, what do you recommend?? I want a binding I know will release when needed; (2) How should I set the bindings in terms of settings? It's hard to find a technician willing to accomodate my knee recontruction needs and desire to have my bindings set on the lower end of the scale. Any comments would be most appreciated. Michael Smith, Salem, Oregon. P.S. That stand against the wall in a squat exercise that someone recommended on this site is awesome for quadracep endurance--it'll do wonders for endurance while descending a mountain in the summer, too. Thank you. P.P.S. we're off to some good deep snow fall this year on the west coast. Mt. Bachelor should be stunning in 2007.
post #2 of 9
I am sure they asked your your skier type (I,II,III). Sometimes this is interpreted as "Beginner", 'Intermediate" and 'Expert", but that is not the case. It is really related to your aggressiveness. A Type I skier is cautious, Type II is a bit more agressive and Type III is very agressive.

Yes, bindings are adjusted to your height, weight sole length but also this skier type. You could back down your type from either a III to a II or a II to a I. This will give will make it easier for the binding to release.
post #3 of 9
You would want to check this before you modify your setting with someone who really knows. Not sure when you come out of the bindings if it is usually the heel or toe. I found when I was some place I did not want to pre-release it was almost always the heel. So I left the toe light and upped the heel setting. This seemed to work for me??? Atleast having the shop set them you know where you are to be, and you can adjust downward to find where you are comfortable.
post #4 of 9
Setting bindings too low is not without risk. The recommended DIN settings are certainly conservative, to the extent that if you claim to be a Type II skier, you can rely on having releases when you need them, but will have some retention in bumps. Your greatest hazard is if you ski with your weight back which puts you in a vulnerable position for knee damage.

Rather than risk pre-releasing from bindings, I recommend using the correct setting. If you want to be ultra conservative, tell the shop your are 51 years old, and the recommended setting will be a full step lower than for your age. To address your risk factors in the way you ski, work with a higher level certified instructor to correct any balance or back-seat issues that could put you at risk. You will enjoy your skiing more, and be safer.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your posts

Thank you for your posts and your suggestions. The weight back point is well-taken, especially in the bumps, and I definitely need to work on technique, especially since I learned to ski pre-parabolic (classic unweight pivot parallel), and this year will be my first foray into shaped skis. I also pre-release in the rear binding, so having that one set to specs and leaving the front looser sounds wise. It is generally the twisting falls that put the most pressure on my left knee. The fear of not releasing for someone whose undergone a bad knee injury tends to make one too tentative, which itself can lead to injuries. On the other hand, hopping out of your bindings in the middle of a bump run tends to lead to some pretty spectacular forward somersaults and mouth's full of snow, which is not entirely desirable either. Again, thanks.
post #6 of 9
Originally Posted by RecontraBacan View Post
Having confidence in knowing I'll release mentally allows me to ski more aggressively and push the envelope a little more.
That is wierd. It is the other way for me. I get a ton of confidence from cranking my bindings because I feel that if I fall I'll still have my skis on and can use them to stop myself from sliding. Just an interesting observation same reactions to completely opposite situations.
post #7 of 9


you said something about "trying to power out of an impending fall" from what i have read, that is dangerous to the acl. also, from what i have read, new bindings do much better at reducing tibia fractures( although several recent broken legs described here make me wonder) but not knee injuries. you should read more about the acl threads here.
post #8 of 9
Having lent both ACLs to orthopedic surgeons for practice over the years (just wanted to help them keep their skills up, really), I can say that binding release/pre-release had nothing to do with either of those injuries. It was more a question of getting stuck in the back seat (from either getting tired or trying to "power" my way through some nasty crud).

In those days I had my binding set for Type II for my height/weight/age. I told myself that since I didn't race anymore, I should be taking it easier on myself. I'm now back up to Type III.

What did I learn? This sounds basic, but I learned that bindings are really for keeping you *on* your skis when you are skiing. They do not compensate for poor technique. (I would wager that you are starting to alter your technique in the bumps, and not in the right way, because you keep "hopping out" of your bindings.) The release mechanism is not an insurance policy or a failsafe. They release when you get into a tumbling sort of fall, saving you from all kinds of awful things. But, the sorts of falls that cause ACL injuries are still likely to happen often without a binding release. ACL injuries can also happen in serious falls *after* your bindings release/pre-release. Plenty of people still injure their ACL, many of whom are good skiers on good equipment.

That said, your Look bindings should be fine. I've been a fan of Look/Rossi bindings for years and find them very unlikely to pre-release (to release before the DIN setting tolerance; pre-releasing can actually cause serious injuries). Others have strong opinions about bindings, but there really aren't any bad ones made these days. FWIW, my "active quiver" has Look/Rossi, and Fischer(Tyrolia) bindings, and they all work fine.

You already know the key to ACL health on the mountain. Get your legs/core strong before you go up on the mountain. Try doing those wall squats with a Swiss ball between your lower back and the wall. If you can get on a Bosu ball, do squats on that, or one-leg balancing and half-squats on it.

I understand your concern for your knees, RecontraBacan, but keeping your bindings set lower than they should be could be harmful to more than your knees.

Have fun getting back into the sport.
post #9 of 9
I have had more upper body injuries (each shoulder, one hand) from unnecessary releases than lower body injuries (one sprained ankle) from a failure to release.

I now wish I had been wearing shoulder pads many years ago.

I do remember that when Marker sold bindings in the pre-DIN days, they suggested measuring the tibia width just below the knee, which allowed their chart to better match one's bone thickness to spring tension.

Of course, you are more concerned about soft tissue injury than bone breakage, but it never hurts to look at as many factors as possible.

I also like modern calibration charts that take into account boot sole length, because all other factors being equal, it is the person with the longer foot who is more vulnerable to a ski binding toe release failure.

I did some patent research a while back into using knee braces for a different purpose than intended.

I found at the time the braces sold in Europe were better adapted for skiing. Perhaps they still are.

In your place and having the same concern, I would want to look for a way to temporarily anchor the lower part of the brace directly to the top of the ski boot so that in a twisting fall where your knee is already bent, all the torsion would be directed from your thigh straight down to your boot via the brace without passing through the knee.

I don't know if this can be done and if it doesn't create other risks, but I would certainly like to find out.

Otherwise, I would rather fall too often from an unnecessary release than risk another ACL injury.
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