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Automatic cross-country ski bindings adjust on the move

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February 23, 2010

The Riskprotect automatic cross-country ski bindings prototype takes the hassle out of on-...

The Riskprotect automatic cross-country ski bindings prototype takes the hassle out of on-the-move adjustments

One of the toughest jobs in cross-country skiing – apart from dragging yourself away from the log fire in the bar at the chalet – is adjusting ski bindings mid-journey. Riskprotect has designed bindings that automatically adjust to an incline or decline and remove the risk of skiers injuring themselves by attempting awkward maneuvers while off-piste.

“Without exaggeration, this was one of the great unsolved mysteries dominating the thinking of all manufacturers of ski bindings,” says Ulrich Schwingshackl, managing director Riskprotect. “My team and I succeeded, after months of painstaking work, in presenting a solution which not only makes off-piste skiing more agreeable, but also less strenuous and, above all, much safer,” he says.

Schwingshackl explains that the revolutionary feature of the climbing aid is an oil-cushioned ball that adjusts the climbing aid according to the steepness of the slope. He says this mechanism prevents the climbing aid from suddenly snapping back into the wrong position when going over rough terrain.

“We also designed an innovative ski crampon. This is a device made from metal that is attached to the binding of the cross-country skis. In order to reduce excessive effort, the new ski crampon only grips the snow when movement has ceased. The binding itself is made of carbon fiber. This material has so far never been used for such a purpose: it weighs less than aluminum, the metal typically used in bindings, but is twice as strong,” he says.

The Riskprotect prototype binding has been placed among finalists for the “ISPO BrandNew Award 2010“. ISPO is the largest trade fair in the world for sports articles and sports fashion and is held annually in Munich.

Via TIS Innovation Park.

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3 Comments

Brilliant.

Though, these are not cross-coutry bindings. You could call them ski touring or randonnee bindings, but cross-country is quite a different game.

linguafranca81
24th February, 2010 @ 05:30 am PST

The terminology seems to be a bit off in the article. I haven't seen the bindings, and the video doesn't do much in presenting how they work, apart from the obvious. Still it seems unlikely that these are cross country bindings. They clearly look like rendonnez bindings. The boots used in the video support this notion. So does the way they're used.

Rendonnez skiing is kind of in between cross country and slalom, but the main point of such skiing is to use entirely slalom style skiing while going down hill, but still be reasonably able to move in flat areas and climb hills by WALKing with hinged bindings. The boots are big and stiff, almost like slalom boots.

Cross country skiing is a very different technique. Much more resembling RUNing. In relatively flat areas, proper cross country skiing very much faster than it woud be with rendonnez equipment. Boots are like jogging shoes, (but with a stiffer sole). The binding is hinged not too differently from the rendonnez binding, but the equipment typically weighs far less than half. The whole technique is based on keeping the balance, like on a bike, but not only sideways. The skis, boots and bindings give virtually no support. Normal cross country gear is not suited for real heavy down hill. It's ok to get down pretty steep and big hills, but only by being careful and keeping speed down, (or being highly skilled and stupidly brave).

It's possible to go down hill just as fast and aggressively with the cross country style technique too, but then heavier stiffer boots and wider skis with steel edges are needed, approaching rendonnez and slalom gear look. Then this isn't cross country either, but Telemark style. Named after the region in Norway where this style was developed a couple of hundred years ago, along with skiing as a sport. The word "slalom" also came from that region. What we nowadays see as normal slalom technique was called "Christiania style", named after the less elegant style city people used to ski, keeping both legs relatively parallell. (Oslo was for a period called Christiania.)

The balancing technique of cross country and Telemark style skiing implies bending the knee deepy on the outer leg in a turn and keeping the weight on that ski while at the same time streching the inner leg far backwards. The positioning of the skis relative to the body will control the carve balance and make a beautiful flowing style. Fixing the heels to the skis would be devastating, as this balancing would then be impossible. If you wondered; yes, this balancing tecnique is quite a bit more difficult to learn, but all the more delightful when mastered. All Norwegians are born with skis on, so we have an advantage. (Unless you happen to be giving birth to one of us, which makes skis seem like rather a disadvantage... :-)

Well. Explanation spun off way too far, really. But that's just how I am. I overdo it all. Damn!

Stein

Stein
24th February, 2010 @ 03:26 pm PST

I concur with both of the comments above and I can vouch for what Stein is saying, as I, as a near 16yr-old, was regularly overtaken by Norwegian 3-4yr-olds when I was skiing in Hemsedalen way back in the mid 1960s. The video was not really informative in the area where it was intended in that they never showed how the heel binding was locked. There are other makes out there that essentially do the same thing, perhaps not in carbon fibre. d;-)

Jetwax
25th February, 2010 @ 01:32 am PST
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