When it comes to ski equipment, bindings have two essential functions providing a connection between you and your skis and breaking that connection if the stress is too severe. They provide a measure of safety by releasing the ski from your foot in case of falls or collisions, but have to remain firmly attached under 'normal' skiing conditions. Since 'normal' is a relative term, bindings can be adjusted to suit a variety of skiing styles and abilities. They are also set according to the weight and height of the skier.
There is a fine balance in adjusting ski bindings. If they are too loose they will release at inappropriate times, but if they are too tight they will not release when you need them too. Either situation can be dangerous. There are several parts and mechanisms that can be adjusted. Being familiar with how your bindings work allows you to make fine adjustments to the ski equipment on your own. It's a good idea, however, to let a ski technician make the initial settings.
Bindings are rated according to an international standard of DIN settings. A low DIN setting allows the ski to release quite easily and is suitable for beginners. Higher level skiers want to use a higher DIN setting.
Each pair of bindings is made within a certain DIN range. Intermediate bindings, for example, may be rated at DIN 3-7. Bindings set at a low DIN will release under sudden or excess pressure. Intermediate settings require more pressure to release, but will still respond quickly to sudden pressure changes. Expert skiers require high DIN settings so that the ski does not suddenly release under normal condition, but will still respond to excess sudden pressure changes.
A DIN setting which is either too high or too low can be the cause of serious accidents. A ski which suddenly releases under high speed will cause the skier to crash, and a ski which fails to release when the skier falls can result in broken bones and torn ligaments.
Step-in bindings are the most common type for alpine skiing. They have a separate toe and heel piece which attach to the top of the ski. The toe piece allows the ski boot to release from excess sideways pressure and the heel will release with excess upward pressure. Some advanced designs of bindings will combine these release motions in both the toe and the heel.
Bindings are fitted with a brake to stop the ski from escaping down the hill if it releases. Brakes are a metal attachment that spring downwards to dig into the snow when the ski boot is released on the ski equipment.
Ski poles are the simplest ski equipment but essential in providing balance and preventing falls. Length is the most important factor in choosing a set of poles.
Poles which are too short will cause you to lean forward too much thereby throwing your balance off. Poles should be a bit shorter than your shoulder height they should fit under your arm pits while standing.
The handle of the pole should fit your hand comfortably. Don't forget to bring your ski gloves with you when buying a set of poles and other ski equipment. Also check to make sure that the strap fits easily around your wrist.
The basket of the ski pole is the part that prevents the pole from going too deeply into the snow. Buy a set of poles that match the type of snow conditions of your ski area. Poles used in soft snow should have larger baskets than those used for groomed trails.
Now that you have your equipment, don't forget the importance of good quality ski clothing.
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