Pre-release issues with Atomic bindings?

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Pre-release issues with Atomic bindings?

Postby J-ski » Thu Oct 19, 2006 7:51 am

Just wondering if anyone here knows of past pre-release issues with Atomic bindings...In my case, the Atomic Centro 412...

I think they're circa 2000-2002 or so...anyway, they're not under warranty. I hear they may have had issues so I'm hoping to learn something about that. I did spin out one hell of a header on these thing despite DIN to company specs, etc. I would like to prevent that from happening again!


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Re: Pre-release issues with Atomic bindings?

Postby lookn4powder » Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:41 am

J-ski wrote:Just wondering if anyone here knows of past pre-release issues with Atomic bindings...In my case, the Atomic Centro 412...
...I would like to prevent that from happening again!

Since the 1990's, I have skied on ESS's and the more recent Atomic Centro 412's. Over the years I've used most other DIN bindings except for Geze. (I mounted Looks on my most recent downhill skis.) All have been set at DIN 8.5 and all have released only when they should. My ESS/Atomics have never pre-released. Mostly, I've liked the Atomic bindings...but a couple events involving me in 2002 and a friend in 2004 have convinced me that other binding systems may be safer.

In 2002 during a powder dump. I was dropping through some trees on the skier's left under Lift 22 at Mammoth and suddenly flopped over and landed with my head downhill next to a very solid tree. Looking down, I discovered that the brake of my ESS binding (w/fat boards) had punctured my powder pants and firmly hooked into the fabric. I untangled myself and continued with this super day. But I was very annoyed because the incident ruined my new ski pants. Dang!!

Then in May two seasons ago, a friend was spring skiing at Mammoth on Atomic Centros. As he was doing some lazy turns in the slow skiing area on his way to the lodge, he was suddenly dropped. The fall badly stretched his ACL! He fell because the ski brake on one foot had hooked in the fabric of the other pant leg, which locked his feet together. That mishap ended his season 30 days early.

So, what's going on here? When I insert boots into the ESS bindings on my fat skis, large gaps exist between the ski brake tines and the binding cases. This exposure increases the potential for a inside tine hooking onto loose clothing. Of course, some bindings have brakes that minimize this gap by retracting against the binding body. At one time I believed that this retraction feature was interesting but unneeded. These two accidents, caused by the brakes hooking to pant fabric, argue otherwise.

So, I believe that any binding that does not have a retracting brake may be dangerous. I suspect that non-retracting brakes present a higher threat for bindings mounted on wide skis, e.g., mid-fats and powder boards. (In the days of straight skis the gaps were smaller so the risk was probably lower too.)

I offer these stories as incidents to consider should you decide to buy new bindings.

(Full Disclosure: I still ski one pair of fats that have ESS's mounted.)
When encountering a skier, turn. Same goes for a tree.
-2nd Law of Skiing
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re: Pre-release issues with Atomic bindings?

Postby J-ski » Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:06 am

Thanks a lot, Jeff. Good of you to send me such a detailed explanation

In my case the drop involved a pre-release but what you're referring to here is something dramatically dangerous as well. Sorry about your friend's ACL (and your new pants) :wink:

The dump from these Centro 412's caused some drama too and put a fast end to the season. Now I'm hearing about lots of heel piece issues from a so-called "bad batch" of bindings produced around 2002. Bingo. Though I must say, I had a tech check them out and he said the heel piece isn't broken. I say it's faulty, I'm out here trying to determine what's what as best I can.

Anyway, thanks again for your time in writing this response to my post. I hope this skiseason is GREAT for you AND your friend!

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