Check binding each season

It pays to have bindings checked regularly. They should be lubricated; roughened Teflon anti-friction pads should be replaced; if one's weight or ability has changed or if a binding has passed from one member of a family to the next, release adjustments need to be made.

Ski shop owners would be smart to provide free binding checks and minimal maintenance services for a low fee. But even when they don't, carefully checking out your bindings makes sense.

Two recently surveys on the subject came up with quite different conclusions as to how much attention the average skier pays to this vital aspect of his equipment.

The Syracuse, New York, section of the National Ski Patrol System (NSPS) says of all bindings checked during the safety clinics it held last season, 75 percent did not meet recommended safety standards.

Moreover, according to an item in the Trailsweep newsletter of the organization, many skiers were found not to recognize the importance of properly operating anti-friction devices and their proper maintenance. "It was not surprising to find rough Teflon pads and frozen solid bindings that had attracted ice build-up because of dirt in the bindings," said the report.

On the other hand, after 3,000 free binding inspections conducted by Salomon/North America from Idaho to Vermont, the company concluded that more attention is being paid to the condition of equipment. The survey found many skiers using well-maintained, relatively recent model bindings and ski brakes. Moreover, 82 percent of the skiers had release settings correct for their ability and weight.

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