For as long as skiing has been a sport, skiers have squabbled over the ideal location of the skier on the ski. The emergence in the 1970’s of manufacturer recommended mounting marks did little to settle the argument. For more than a decade there remained two accepted standards, one using a boot-toe mark and the other a mid-point mark.
By the dawn of the current era of shaped skis, the mid-point position had been universally adopted. Radical, deep-dish sidecuts made pinpointing mounting position more important and less subject to freelance re-positioning.
Then along came twin-tips and centered-mounted positions on skis with symmetrical sidecuts, creating a new binding position paradigm. To keep the skiing public on their toes (pun intended), many manufacturers have resorted to screening multiple boot-center lines and letting the consumer pick from this à la carte menu.
Multiple mounting position options along with a recommendation
How could a ski with an hourglass sidecut have a variety of positions from which it will ski as intended? Before you answer, consider this: any ski with a pronounced rocker, particularly those with a spatulate tip, effectively move the skier around in relation to center as they transition from an edged ski to flat and flat to edged.
A ski baseline with early rise in the tip (tip rocker)
When traveling flat, the tip-rockered ski presents a shorter platform to the snow, effectively shifting the skier forward along its running length. As the ski is edged and pressured, the rockered area may come in contact with the surface, extending the running length and shifting the ball of the foot back toward the center of chord length (the measurement from tip to tail).
We hasten to add that not all rockered baselines are created equal, and there’s a considerable chasm separating the behavioral extremes of this design feature. Some rockers blend readily into the rest of an edged ski while others are designed to remain permanently disengaged from what goes on behind them.
A ski with tip and tail rocker
In this topsy-turvy world, how is the hapless citizen supposed to figure out his or her optimal stance position?
One seemingly sensible solution is to procure a binding on a moveable track, such as the Marker Schizo, or a system ski with multiple position possibilities, or a used ski from a demo fleet. If you’re trying a ski you plan to buy, the demo track on the binding will allow you to tinker with location to see if a non-standard position gives you better feedback.
What you’ll learn from this exercise is that skis do indeed behave differently depending on where the ski boot is on the ski, but different doesn’t always equate with better.
Adhering to the manufacturer’s recommendation is the safest route for most. There are so many variables involved in determining the precise location of the skier on the ski that simply making gross changes in fore/aft binding position may not be the best strategy for experimentation.
Which is not to say that position on the ski isn’t important, just that it’s secondary to how the skier is positioned, to take one example, in his or her boots. Most skiers don’t have a binding position problem, but an appalling number of skiers have stance position issues originating in their boots.
Any binding positioning method involves a presumption of where the skier is in the boot, a presupposition, sadly, built on sand. Because accurate boot fitting often involves a few moments of doubt and pain, many skiers end up encased in a longer platform than the binding location methodology anticipates. Moving the binding around to address a fitting blunder is at best a tail-chasing exercise.
Before entertaining any notion of binding relocation, get thee to a veteran bootfitter who can analyze your stance. A visit to the technique doctor, aka a certified instructor or coach, should also prove more productive than fiddling with one component of a complex balance system.