The first modern heel-and-toe binding for alpine skiing was the Cubco binding: step-in and the toe could release in all directions, and the heel could release in a forward fall. Ski injury rates were reduced by 75% due to this invention from the 1950s. ISO 9462:2023—Alpine Ski-Bindings – Requirements And Test Methods provides specifications for alpine ski-bindings.
Alpine Touring Ski-Bindings
Unlike other types of skiing (cross-country, Telemark, or ski jumping) that use skis with free-heel bindings, alpine (downhill) skiing is the pastime of sliding down snow-covered slopes on skis with fixed-heel bindings. Ski bindings provide the critical connection between boots and skis. They not only hold you in when you ski, but they also release you safely when needed. Alpine touring bindings (AT bindings) allow you to lift your heels naturally while striding uphill. They also provide you with a fixed heel for the downhill and are the bindings used to access backcountry terrain. Used in combination with climbing skins and alpine touring boots that have a hinging upper cuff, AT binding overall make skiing over snowy ground remarkably fast, seamless, and efficient.
What Is ISO 9462?
ISO 9462:2023 specifies the main characteristics of ski-bindings and describes, as an example, test methods A and B:
- In method A, the ski is rigidly connected to the test frame and the torque Mz or My is progressively applied to the sole until the binding releases. The peak value of Mz or My is recorded.
- In method B, the sole is rigidly connected to the test frame through a sensor that measures the torques Mz and My. Forces are progressively applied to the ski until the binding releases. The peak value of Mz or My is recorded.
This standard applies to ski-bindings for alpine skiing for children, juniors, and adults. ISO 9462:2023 defines alpine ski-binding as “a system to ensure firm connection between boot and ski, fixing the heel low for downhill skiing.” This system releases the boot from the ski when certain loads reach preset values.
Invention of Alpine (Downhill) Skiing and Competitions
Evolving from military considerations, alpine (downhill) skiing was invented in the 18th century. The Norwegian army held skill competitions involving skiing down the slopes and navigating forests and snowfields, all while shooting guns. Today, the Biathlon at the Olympics keeps the spirits of these trials alive as this winter sport combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. It is treated as a race as contestants ski through a cross-country trail. The distance of the trail is divided into un-timed shooting rounds. Depending on the competition, missed shots result in extra distance or time being added to the contestant’s total.
In 1809, Olaf Rye from Norway was the first known ski jumper despite it not being invented yet. Olaf jumped 9.5 meters through the air in front of an audience and survived. During the late 19th century, skiing changed from a method of transportation into a sporting activity. The first non-military skiing competitions are reported to have been held in the 1840s in northern and central Norway. The first national skiing competition in Norway was held in the capital Christiania (now Oslo). It was won by Sondre Norheim in 1868 and is regarded as the beginning of a new era of skiing enthusiasm. Hence, the birth of modern downhill skiing is often dated to when Sondre popularized skis with curved sides, bindings with stiff heel bands made of willow, as well as the Telemark and Christiania (slalom) turns.
Testing Alpine Skis
ISO 9462:2023 states that for the release tests in the laboratory, the bindings should be mounted either on whole skis or on appropriate sections of skis. The ski with the binding delivered in its medium size should be used if the binding is pre-mounted (already mounted on the ski by the producer). If not, the standard details a ski which represents the market should be used.
ISO 9462:2023—Alpine Ski-Bindings – Requirements And Test Methods is available on the ANSI Webstore.