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Skier Type and DIN, stupid noob questions

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'm new to this board, and skiing in general, so please forgive me if this is covered somewhere else. I just started in December, and I've gotten a total of 29 days in at our local hills here in Buffalo. I've been wondering about the whole skier type and DIN thing. Just what constitutes "typical" and "aggressive" and "moderate" and "fast" speeds. Is "fast" DH speeds? It really seems kind of subjective. I've been categorizing myself as Type II, seeing as there are plenty of people who pass me on the hill, and setting my bindings at 6, which is correct according to the charts. According to my Garmin, I'm usually going between about 30-40mph on most trails, which is faster than I would have guessed, and 47 is the fastest I've ever recorded. I'm not the best carver, but I can carve well enough on groomers to get some pop out of the tails. I haven't had a prerelease yet, but I know I definitely don't want to, especially not on a narrow tree-lined trail at 40mph. Is it something I need to be concerned about, considering almost everything around here is groomed? Thanks for any input.

post #2 of 23
Welcome -- to the board and the sport. 29 days your first season is pretty damned good.

Originally Posted by epl View Post
I haven't had a prerelease yet
That's probably the most important piece of information.

Age, weight, height, and boot sole length are others. (And type of bindings, for those of us who distrust Markers.)
post #3 of 23
Skier type on the binding setting form simply instructs the tech to increase or decrease the din setting a notch. I wouldn't worry about how you ski but rather how you want the bindings set when you identify yourself as a type I, II, or III skier. That you haven't experienced a pre-release or an injury suggests that you have correctly identified your skiier type. So far.

ps. I had a pre-release when skiing my wife's skis which resulted in a broken collar bone : My own fault really - skiing equipment unsuited to my abilities :
post #4 of 23
Here's an example chart with instructions on how it works:


The main aspects are skier height, weight, and boot sole length. The three types define a risk level. Type I skiers would want their skis to fall off if they look at them sideways. Type II skiers balance the risk. Type III skiers are more concerned with skis *not* coming off. You can pretty much figure out where you should be by considering how often you crash and whether or not the skis should stay with your or not. To me a type III skier is one who crashes rarely (1-2 times a whole season) or never when skiing normally on lift serviced terrain. Someone who crashes more frequently under normal conditions might be a type II because they want more safety margin.
post #5 of 23
Originally Posted by skier219 View Post
To me a type III skier is one who crashes rarely (1-2 times a whole season) or never when skiing normally on lift serviced terrain.
I guess it depends on what you mean by "crashes" -- do you mean any fall, or those that should lead to a release?

Even if the latter, I'd put that at more of a Level III+.
post #6 of 23
I agree with Alpinedad clarification regarding “crash”. For example, there have been a number of times that I have fallen or lost purchase this season (for example my fault with a cross tip or a natural circumstance such as broken or unstable snow) with appreciation that bindings did not release on the demanding pitch. Each time I was able to rotate and block decent with lower limb torque nominal. Release unwanted. Fortunately, release welcomed this season with a slow twister in deep cement. Damn smart binding, stupid skier, III+ category used with DIN torque setting release shop tested.
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'm familiar with the DIN charts and everything, I'm just not sure what is meant by "average" and "aggressive" and "moderate" vs. "fast", it's kind of vague. Besides tripping in the lift line, I really only crashed once this season, when I got stupid and tried to pass another skier in a tight spot and ended up going across his tips at around 40 mph and totally lost it. I don't ski like that any more unless it's totally clear in front of me. Bindings released no problem then. Is prerelease something to be concerned about on groomed snow or is it more likely to happen in deep stuff and off-piste conditions? There aren't really too many demanding trails around here, black runs top out at maybe 30°, possibly with some short steeper sections and maybe a jump here and there if you are going fast enough. I don't want to break my leg because my bindings don't release when they need to, but neither do I want to break my neck because they release when they aren't supposed to.
post #8 of 23
Hi epl, and welcome to EpicSki. Thanks for joining us, and for asking a perfectly good--and really very important--question. (There are no "stupid noob" questions!)

Ultimately, your binding settings are up to you. It all comes down to which is more dangerous, or which risk you'd rather take--losing a ski and crashing hard as a result, or keeping your skis on and injuring your leg in a bad fall.

Certainly, the faster you go, the more dangerous both become. But losing a ski inadvertently at 40+ mph can threaten your life. Especially with today's skis and carving techniques, it is not uncommon to end up going very fast across the hill, where throwing a shoe could find you heading straight at the trees in a hurry.

It's true that the better you get, the fewer simple falls you'll take. Especially those awkward, weirdly contorted falls that happen often to beginners and really put your knees and ankles and legs at risk, happen much less often to advanced skiers.

At the same time, of course, the opportunity for truly spectacular, high-speed crashes, however rare, increases! Personally, I'm more concerned about a ski rattling off in rough spring coral conditions at high speed, so I set my bindings well above the "recommended" DIN, as most instructors and high-level skiers do. Real race bindings often don't even go below "10" on the DIN scale.

But please do not consider this to be a recommendation!

As others have suggested, you'll know when it's time to start cranking up your DIN settings, when you start walking out of your bindings for no apparent reason. "Perfect" ski technique puts very little stress on bindings. It's often said that, if you ski well, you could leave your bindings at "1." I've known instructors who "brag" about their low settings. Until they bury their face in the snow a few times and wise up. You simply can't ski at a high-performance level, regardless of your skill, without getting knocked around and needing those bindings to hold you in now and then. (And if anyone thinks you do, you need to ski faster!)

Today's bindings are very good. Compared with older models, they absorb the quick, harsh shocks that don't usually hurt us, and release easily when they need to. They don't have to be set as high as before just to stay on. So even "high" settings are actually quite low compared with a couple decades ago. I usually set my bindings at 10 or 11, and I'm always amazed at how easily they release when they need to--I never even notice the force. (That's 3 or 4 numbers above my "Type III" recommended setting--high by some standards, conservative for many.) They rarely come off when they shouldn't. And when they're rattling around on the hard, rough, frozen conditions of an early morning in spring, or slicing at speed through a tight glade, or holding a tight line in a race course, it's comforting to know that my skis aren't going to just fall off!

Again, please, do not take my words as a recommendation for setting your own bindings. There are risks both with too high and too low, and you must make your own decisions as you weigh these risks yourself. If I had to "officially" recommend, I'd suggest keeping your bindings at at the recommended DIN for whatever type of skier you think you are, at least until you find yourself coming out a few times when you know that you shouldn't have. Trust me--you'll know!

I'll leave you with a photograph from the Noram Giant Slalom race at Keystone last fall. I suspect that this skier would have had some choice words for his ski tech or binding manufacturer at this particular moment:

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #9 of 23
On another note, at least as important as the DIN setting is making sure that the bindings function properly in the first place. It's always a good idea to have a qualified shop test them each fall. They'll measure the actual force required to cause a release to make sure that a "6" really is a 6. Springs fade, pieces break, and parts wear, so don't just assume that your bindings are working right, especially if you've used them a bit.

Keep them clean. Never carry your skis unprotected on the roof rack of your car, despite what everyone else does. Back the springs down before putting your skis away for the summer (and don't forget to reset them in the fall, when you have that shop test them).

And take care of your boots, too. Those boot soles are part of the binding system. If they get dirty or worn, they can seriously degrade the performance of your bindings. Always--always--protect your boot soles with "Cat Tracks" or "Walk-EZ" or something similar when walking on anything but soft snow. Even for just a few steps. Just a few hundred yards on asphalt will cause significant damage to your expensive--and critically important--boot soles. (It's not just about retention-release, either. Ski performance--edging power and precision--also depend on that clean, critical connection between boot and binding.)

I wear out two or three pairs of Cat Tracks in a season. They are a pain in the neck, but use them religiously. You'll get used to it!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #10 of 23
Yeah, what Bob said. My understanding of the DIN charts is that they are "conservative", that is, they are on the light side. If a binding releases under stress then a manufacturer can say that it did what it is advertised to do. If it doesn't and someone tears up their knee or gets a spiral fracture, the skier can claim the binding didn't do its job. I imagine it's harder to claim negligence against a company for a binding releasing. The manufacturers are naturally trying to protect themselves and so err on the side of easier release within a reasonable margin in what they publish. Racers routinely push their DINs way above what the charts list for type III skiers and sometimes pay the price in falls that don't take the skis off. They really have to though - all you have to do is watch some ultra slo-mo of a turn over rutted snow to see the incredible vibration and pounding that gear can take to understand why high DIN is required to keep the skis on. Still, nothing is nastier than watching a WCer doing an eggbeater with skis still on. It's a balancing game. I agree with BOB for sure, pre-release can be really dangerous, especially if you carve a lot and your path takes you across the hill at speed on narrower trails - you don't want to have a ski come off when you are headed for the trees at 40 mph. I don't think you said what skier type you have chosen for yourself. My 16 year old races and I set his bindings only a half DIN setting above what the charts say for a type III skier - same for my bindings. Though all of his courses are petty slow, we regularly free ski at speeds up to 60 and have never had a problem with early release. The skis come off when they should, like the closing night of our beer league when we were racing on freezing corn that had a 2" crust with 6" of soft snow underneath. One of my tips caught an old rut and drove under the crust coming to an almost instant stop. The heel released and left me to finish the course on one ski at about 40 mph. I'm glad it came off - I'd hate to have gone down hard on that stuff. I think most better than intermediate skiers are ok with the type III settings. It sounds like you fit that category at the speeds you reach, but you have to make that call. (I dunno Bob - that's an insane photo! The ski is twisted 90 deg. in the tip. With force great enough to make the ski that distorted it's probably a good thing for that skier's lower leg that it came off. Not much a tech can do about that.)
post #11 of 23
Hi Midfielder--

That photograph is a frame from video. In slow motion, you can see exactly what happened. The course was pretty rutted at that point, and his ski was vibrating severely as he came into that gate. His tip caught a big rut, which pulled it quickly in toward him, and his boot rattled out at the toe, twisting out to the outside.

He wasn't injured--slid to a stop and got right up--but I'll bet he would have preferred that ski to have stayed on. Most racers struggled with that gate, with some violent ski vibrations, but this was the only one who lost a ski.

Best regards,
post #12 of 23
Yeah, I imagine he would rather have the ski on his boot! I bet that ski isn't sound anymore though... Also agree - cattracks for the win.

post #13 of 23
Racers routinely push their DINs way above what the charts list for type III skiers and sometimes pay the price in falls that don't take the skis off.
Using the term "racer" in conjunction with "KevinF" is laughable, but I do beer-league race. Still, the most painful fall I ever took was a pre-release in a race-course. Ever since then, I've had my DINs on my race skis cranked a little higher then the "type III" setting would suggest.

pre-release can be really dangerous, especially if you carve a lot and your path takes you across the hill at speed on narrower trails - you don't want to have a ski come off when you are headed for the trees at 40 mph
Good point and one I hadn't ever really considered. I like the security of knowing that mine are going to stay on as I've had some painful pre-release falls. On the occassions when they do release, I can feel a twinge, so I've at times wondered if I should dial the DIN back a few notches and just deal with the occassional pre-release. But I do spend time carving at a pretty good clip on trails most people would consider on the narrow side. And yeah, the consequences of taking a slide into the trees because I'm suddenly ski-less is not something I want first-hand experience with.
post #14 of 23
As one of my good friends once said when I asked him what he wanted for a DIN setting on his new skis,

"set them at 14... I won't fall slow."
post #15 of 23


EPL, Welcome to Epic, 29 days your lst year is remarkable, you've got the skier's disease and gotta go.

All the above (almost) are good comments on DIN and Ability but let me add a simple release check I always do on; new ski's, beginning of the season or anytime anyone or me has worked on my bindings.

Follow thre book on DIN and then check the accuracy of this DIN reference.

First. On your strongest leg put on the ski, on the carpet, just one ski at a time. Have your wife or whoever stand on the tails of that ski. With your knee bent, lung forward aggressively. You should click out of the heel. The strength/force to click out should be significant but not impossible and should also not be a piece of cake. Switch ski's - on same
leg - and repeat. Compare the force necessary for both ski's.

Second. Have your wife or whoever stand on the front of your ski and twist out at the toe to the inside. Keep your knee bent.

One of the reasons I do this is to check the bindings. OK the DIN is choosen, that doesn't mean the binding works. GThis simple test will tell you if the binding works and will give you a good clue as to the DIN # being right for you.

Example. The book says my DIN should be 6 because of my age. I woould prerelease a lot off piste and in the powder at that DIN. I use 8, the same # I used when I was younger. After you've skied a litttle more and have more experience you will have the option of cranking them down or not - you may even base this on where you ski and your legs/knees and injury to yourself.

Epic is a great site, ask all the questions you want. There are a lot of skiers here that will give you some great info.

IMPORTANT/IMPORTANT. Keep your knee bent/flexed when you do these 2 exercises to check your binding release. If you do these with your leg straight you might injure yourself.
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks for everyone's input. Looks like I'm gonna get to finish the season with an even 30 days, as Ellicottville just got a 15" dump yesterday. Gotta love that lake effect. I think after considering everything I'm going with the Type III settings for now. The idea of losing a ski at speed is scarier than the idea of breaking a leg, I can't ski on one foot yet. I pretty much had figured out that the recommendations in the binding tech manuals were written by lawyers, not skiers, and wanted to get some advice from people who actually use the things. Thanks again.

post #17 of 23
Dear epl,

After 29 days your odds of being a "Type III" are about the same as my odds of scoring with Nicole Kiddman.

Cracking your bindings up to an upper level DIN is not necessarily a real good idea at this point.

The minute you hit a crud pile "at speed" while trying to turn you become aware of exactly why bindings are set where they are. The forces that you will exert on the bindings versus the forces that someone like ... well .. Bob Barnes .. would put on the skis are a world apart (via anticipation and technique).

Stick with the shop settings.

Racing is a whole different game and any comparison with rec skiing is at times valid but for the most part it's an apples/oranges comparison. For the most part, a racer is on smooth (groomed ice) ... and should not be hitting sudden soft spots or piles of junk (I know it spring, schizz happens), but unless you are going to stick to "freshly groomed" trails exclusive of all others ...
post #18 of 23
You say you've read the manuals and want personal input from others so I'll give you mine.
I have been skiing for 44 years, passed the PSIA Associate Cert (now Level 2) exam in spring of 1987 and have taught full or part time for 20 years. I love to ride the rails on the groomers, get into the bumps on occasion, and have been known to be found in the trees between the trails more often. I'm 50 years old, morbidly obese (5'8" 280#) and the recommended DIN for me is 7. If I ski my Solomons at anything less than 9 in the bumps I am walking with no skiis on. My Markers perform perfectly although I "lied" on my form and only claimed age 49 (hey I was 49 at the beginning of the season) so they are set at 8. If you are skiing properly (steering and following the tips not pushing the tails) and do hit the unexpected you should only experience the appropriate release at the appropriate time. If you are pushing the tails and/or cranking the settings up more than one notch you are flirting with a serious knee injury that may end your skiing career for the rest of your life. I know skidding into the trees skiless is scary but IMNSHO you should not be skiing at anywhere near death speed on anything other than wide well groomed slopes. There is a time and a place for everything and that includes super fast skiing (and yes, fat boys DO ski faster, it is part of that mass/gravity thing).
It is all part of "Be Aware, Ski With Care."
post #19 of 23
Thread Starter 

Ok, so this is what I'm getting at, this skier type thing is pretty vague. Type 2 says "average" skier at "moderate" speed and a variety of terrain. Type 3 just says "aggressive" skier at "higher" speed and "steeper" terrain. Am I supposed to take this to mean someone who never skis slower than super g speed and warms up on Corbet's before tackling the real challenging stuff, or does it mean someone who usually gets to the bottom of an east coast black run before most of the other skiers on the hill and skis trees and bumps some of the time? I'm not talking about cranking my bindings up to 12 here, does bumping them up from 6 to 7 (which would be the shop setting if I check the Type 3 box) really add a huge amount of risk? It seems like I can step or twist out of them pretty easily at 7. The idea of losing a ski at 40mph even on a wide open run or at any speed on a really steep grade is unappealing. I hear opinions like yours that say you can't be a type 3 as an intermediate, others saying it has nothing to do with your ablility level, and the one I hear most "only you can decide" (i.e. my attorney would not approve of my answering your question). As for big piles of crud, I haven't buried my tips in one yet, but I do tend to ski more conservatively in those conditions, at least the 2 times I've seen them so far.
post #20 of 23
None of us have seen you ski, which would be required to give honest advice. Have you taken a lot of lessons? If not, consider doing so next season. It sounds like you are at a good point where instruction is critical. An instructor can give you better advice on what skier type classification might be appropriate after watching you ski.

I know how you feel, since it's clear you made big advances this season, but don't get ahead of yourself. I skied 40+ days a season through college and my skills advanced quickly, but looking back on that experience I am amazed I didn't kill myself. As good as I thought I was back then, I definitely needed forgiving bindings without a doubt.
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 

yeah, I've taken 7 or 8 lessons this year. I'm not claiming trying to claim I'm a great skier or anything here, there are plenty of people out there doing prettier turns than I. The only reason I started thinking about this was that my Garmin told me I'm going a lot faster than I thought I was going. I'm 36, so I've got some sense of mortality and I'm not too prone to placing myself in serious danger any longer, so I don't think I'm reaching beyond my ability or anything. Now that I think about it, any situation that would cause me to lose a ski would probably cause me to crash no matter what, so I guess I shouldn't be too concerned about it.

Thanks again to everyone for the input.
post #22 of 23
No new information here, just a little story.

Friday, Milt's Face, Vail's Back Bowls, glorious sunny day--I had the opportunity to observe closely (very closely, score card in hand) as a gifted and athletic skier trying out for the PSIA-Rocky Mountain Trainer Accreditation selection misjudged his tactics, to the amusement of many! He started out very fast in the deep, heavy, inconsistent crud, making 30 foot leaps off rolls and bumps, and then buried a ski tip. You know the rest! Ski came off at 40-50 mph, but he didn't fall; stayed upright, gaining speed for nearly 100 yards before the other ski came off with a spectacular somersault. As he hiked back up to his first ski (big sheepish grin on his face), his second ski continued on another 200-300 yards down Milt's Face.

Did he pass the run, you ask? Of course! His skiing at the top was spectacular, but he came around for a second run anyway, which he skied considerably more conservatively!

Best regards,
post #23 of 23

Any one knows this site? The dinsetting.com?

Who is it? Is it any good? Looks like the other chart to me.
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