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Is there any good alternative to ski brakes?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone.  I'm having some problems with ski brakes.  Namely, I can't get a set of them to stay in one piece for very long.  I do a lot of 180s, which tends to result in wrecks from time to time.  The problem is, when my skis come detached on a botched landing, they are facing backwards.


As near as I can tell, the brake deploys, and since it is facing backwards, instead of gently skidding across the snow, it gets jammed into it, and this force wrenches on the brake and, more times than not, pulls it clean off of its mounts.  This has happened to me probably around four or five times now after a failed backwards landing.  Twice it has resulted in a ski running away down the mountain (most recently my ski actually took off from another jump without me after coming detached and having the brake fail, which looked kind of badass, but I digress.)


This problem isn't specific to any one binding or any one brand, it's just an overall flaw of the ski brake design, they don't work backwards.  This has happened to me with multiple brands of bindings.  Is there any other device I can use to keep my skis from running away?  I've thought about leashes, but I've heard that there's a big potential for injury there.  I'm also a little concerned about the leash also putting too much force on whatever part of the binding I attach it to and ripping it off of the ski.

post #2 of 8

I think until the binding guys start paying attention, this is just going to be an issue. Even without the brakes deploying,  folks have been having wipeouts because even the tiniest overhang can catch on a high angle carved turn if someone is skiing switch. This happened to one of my kids at a CO resort last winter - pretty major wipeout & brake arm torn off solely because of edge angle on a smooth switch turn on a groomer.  He was told by the shop at the base of the hill that they were replacing  about 4 brakes a day due to this phenomenon. That's one hill. A year ago.


Sadly, from a US point of view,  I suspect it'll take a major liability lawsuit to make them start rethinking brake designs (especially since those companies are selling skis designed to be skied switch). Or they could just pay attention...


I'm no expert - but I suspect the best you can do today is use the narrowest brakes you can get on your skis, (if needed) bend them to minimize overhang & overhang angle, and set your DIN high enough to minimize releases (without assuring broken body parts).

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Sadly I don't think bending the brakes in will do much.  Like I said, where I lose all of my brakes is on botched switch landings.  The brakes deploy straight into the snow and get ripped off.  I don't usually carve switch that much or that sharply.  I've been thinking maybe just using really long leashes, like 6ft of bunched up nylon straps, might do the trick.  Maybe that would let the ski get far enough away to not injure me.  The worry then is what happens when the leash reaches the end of its travel and gets jolted back at me?  Then again, maybe as short as possible would be a better idea just to keep them away from my head.  It's kind of the difference between letting the skis fly far enough away to stay away completely, or just trying to ensure that they stay away from my face.


Increasing DIN is kind of scary too.  I'm already at 7 and I only weigh about 150lbs.  Perhaps even running a staggered DIN front to rear might help.  This most recent accident I think happened because I landed to far back on my skis (towards the front of the ski itself).  It just put a little too much force on the heels and they popped out.  I might have held onto it if the bindings didn't release.

post #4 of 8
Have you tried removing the plastic off the ends of the brake arms?
post #5 of 8

What kind of bindings are you on?  Is the forward pressure set correctly?  To be honest, I almost think that you should first explore why the skis are ejecting so frequently on these botched landings (are they that botched?).  With good bindings that are properly set, you should likely be staying in the bindings more than popping out at a DIN of 7 for your weight (barring any anomalies in height and boot size).  Unless it's a total self destruct sequence of a crash that is, but most of us don't go down that road too often before adjusting our strategy.  I mean, how many times can you do this before something really bad happens?


It's just my perception -- at beginner levels, the skis practically waltz off at the slightest perturbation.  At expert levels and in expert level crashes, the skis are more likely to stay on unless the sh!t really hits the fan.  If you're doing that a lot, there are bigger concerns.  I don't crash a lot, but when I do the skis normally stay on.  In the cases where a ski pops off, it's damn near a catastrophic crash and it makes sense that the bindings let go.  I can't picture having that kind of crash -- enough to pop a ski off -- more than once a season at most before I start to fear for my longevity.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

They are Rossignol Scratch 200 bindings on a very old set of K2 public enemies.  I'm not sure how to check the forward pressure.  I just had the bindings center mounted on the skis, but the issue was always there.  I agree that maybe they shouldn't be letting go, but I still hesitate to adjust them so that they don't.


Mainly I just want a brake system that doesn't fail miserably when it deploys while moving backwards.

post #7 of 8

If you want to tether your skis to your feet, you'd better have a helmet and body armor. Been there, done that, only without the helmet and body armor. Ouch!! So don't do the tethers, it will eventually hurt. As in, all over. I was the first guy in line to buy a set of brakes when they were first put on the market.


Oddly, many of the early model brakes pointed the other direction. My Salomon 505's have forward pointing brakes. I never had any problems with them in forward pointing falls, which were rare. The manufacturers probably turned the brakes around precisely because of the problem you described, that people were ripping brakes out on forward moving falls.


BTW, they don't make them like that any more, with the forward pointing brakes, and if you found some, no shop would work on them anyway.

post #8 of 8

Cut one of the arms off.

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