Ski Expo: A 20,000 square foot circus
SUMMIT DAILY NEWS
DENVER – It was a circus of flying snowsport acrobats on trampolines, zooming mountainboarders, teetering slackliners and tumbling obstacle course athletes at the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Expo on Saturday.
Amid the madness of shoppers crammed in with booths of lodging deals and mountain passes, racks of outdoor clothing and base layers, walls of skis and snowboards and their boot and binding counterparts and various other snowsport-related odds and ends, Marker sales representative Bill Bird took a moment to chat about evolving technology in ski bindings.
He said recent years have seen vast changes in fixed-binding designs on twin-tip skis. As the ski design gained popularity and required skiers to bend themselves out of shape to ride backwards, Marker changed its design to fit the fad and ease the stance transition.
In the past, bindings were designed to be higher in the heel than in the toe to help skiers initiate their turns, Bird said. Now, the twin-tip design has the binding sit flat so skiers don’t need to change their stance as much to move their weight forward while riding backward.
“As skis change, bindings do too,” Bird said, adding that the slight change helps most skiers take advantage of the directional capability of their skis, including in landing tricks in the terrain park.
“It’s like chewing gum and walking at the same time. Some people can and some people can’t – so why don’t we just eliminate the variable (of the stance)?” Bird said.
Bird added that Marker has created the Schizo binding for skiers to adjust their stance with a turn of a key. Skis can be ridden with a regular mount that’s set back slightly from center for all-mountain terrain versatility. But mounting center or forward of center can mean better park and pipe riding, Bird said. Ski manufacturers mark skis accordingly – a guide to where to mount bindings. The Schizo allows it all – forward and backward adjustments with the turn of a special key. That way, one’s standing position can meet the needs of changing powder conditions, all-mountain skiing or stomping park and pipe tricks – without taking out the screwdriver to remount the bindings.
Another evolution in ski bindings is the all-terrain, or AT, setup. The heel can lock down to the ski and connect the skier to the ski the way an alpine binding would. It can also release and allow the skier to tour the backcountry or skin to out-of-reach powder fields.
“In the old days, you had to take your skis off and walk to (the powder),” Bird said. Now, the skier doesn’t have to trudge through waist-deep snow to access those areas. Keep the skis on, strap on some skins and use the skis to slide across the snow.
It’s something that seems to be taking precedence over the recent telemarking craze, Bird said. He speculates it’s because older skiers often don’t want to take on the stress that telemarking puts on the knees – but they still want to explore the backcountry. The AT binding can allow the advanced skiers to poach powder in the morning and meet there friends on the bunny slopes in the afternoon, Bird said.
SDN reporter Janice Kurbjun can be contacted at (970) 668-4630 or at
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