I am the binding engineer who has been involved with 3 of the world's only alpine ski-bindings that can mitigate knee injuries - and I am the co-developer of the DIN-system for ski bindings. Her are my thoughts:
First, I will give you my background so that you can understand where I'm coming from. When I was 8, I was skiing w my dad and a skier hit me from behind, blind-side (never saw the guy at the moment of impact) and sustained a spiral tibia fracture. My dad had set-up the bindings - so he felt badly because it was known that a spiral tibia fracture meant that the toe-piece did not release. Then when I was 11, I landed a jump on top of an unseen, slightly under the snow tree stump on a open-trail - and I sustained a green-stick tibia fracture. Again, my dad had set-up my bindings and it was known that a green-stick tibia fracture meant that the heel-unit did not release. These events took place in the 1960's. My dad then took my equipment to our neighbor who wrote the articles in Skiing magazine (every month for 10-yrs) on bindings. This neighbor was also the man who developed the world's first release adjustment charts based on skier weight, 'ability' and boot sole length; he developed the 1st devices to measure the release of ski-bindings and he developed the first 'mechanical AFD' under the ball of the foot. I broke my leg, again ... all the while aggressively participating in other contact sports (soccer, motorcross) with zero injuries. When I broke my leg the 3rd time at age 13 - i knew right them what my life's work would be. I decided to go to work for my neighbor (as his helper in the Skiing magazine binding reviews) to see what was going on. During this time while working w my neighbor, I decided that bindings could have more edge control (by making the 4 contact interfaces with the boot, wider: that would be the heel pad, the AFD, the toe cup and the heel cup) so that the bindings' release mechanism did not have to 'work so hard' to provide edge control. Salomon bought my designs and integrated them into a line of new bindings that became #1-selling, world-wide during the early and mid-1970's. I then went to engineering and business school, joined the skiing safety organizations (ASTM and ISSS), became 5th-ranked in the US in the DH event of alpine ski racing, while also racing on the Div 1 college circuit - and at night, in my part-time ski-shop located up on the mountain (above where you load onto the lifts - where my customers could ski-into my shop), I developed what became the DIN-system. My engineering thesis was on how ski bindings effect ski performance (electronically measured ski vibration on-slope and in the lab at MIT). Immediately out of college, I was hired by Geze ski-binding company based in Stüttgart, Germany and helped this mittlestand company (with 50 German engineers; 5,000 employees and 200-million of annual revenue) radically develop its line of ski-bindings. The woman who owned Geze (Brigitte Vöster-Alber) was committed to plowing 30-million $ into developing the bindings and she had already hired-away several people from Salomon who I already knew. During my 8-years at Geze the bindings went from worst-rated to best and the company went from a 2% market-share to a 20% share and then she sold-off the binding-division of the company to Abel (a Swiss watch company, who only a few months later sold the binding-division to Group Bernard Tapie in France, who sold to Rossignol. This is how you know these bindings because Rossi also purchased Look at the same time, then 'merged' the technologies from both brands into Rossi, Dynastar, Look and Roxi.
While I was at Geze we developed (costing 5-million $) the SE3 - the world's 1st 'knee-friendly' alpine ski binding. It was also radically expensive at that time (1979) at US$300 ($150 more than all others). It had independently adjustable vertical and lateral toe release. The independent adjustability allowed skiers to tune-in higher release-settings (din's - but you should not call release settings din's....more on that, later) for vertical compared to lateral so that lateral release would not be compromised if you needed higher vertical release. This binding also featured the world's first 'friction compensator' built-into the AFD. But the binding was ugly, heavy and expensive, so after only selling about 10,000 pair over 3-years, we killed it in 1982. What a shame that we did not make it lighter and better-styled because it did mitigate BIAD ACL injuries (we proved that, biomechanically). BIAD ACL injuries occur when you land all the way in the back-seat.
I left Geze in 1986 after working for 5-years on the side (with a non-corporate opportunity agreement with Geze) to invent, develop and launch the world's 1st hands-off clipless bicycle pedal system, CycleBinding (which is a ski-binding on a bicycle). Over a million pair have been sold per year for over 25-yrs - and these pedals originally have some degree of laxity, rotationally, to mitigate knee-stress during each revolution of pedaling. I then sold that company - and invented and developed the 1st high tech line of snowshoes for Tubbs: this endeavor taught me much about developing high-durability products for use in extreme cold weather (Tubbs is #1 in snowshoes for the past 20-yrs). I was then asked by a small twin-tip ski company located in Burlington, Vermont to help them develop their 'knee-friendly' binding -- but these guys, who had zero experience designing ski-bindings, completely ignored my advice and the binding literally fell apart ... but they shipped them to skiers anyway and they lost over 3-million $. A big ski company bought them out and the binding was killed. This binding had no hope as designed by the original ski-designer.
I then utilized public data from a $700,000 research project conducted by a great team of leading biomechanicists in Montreal -- to develop what became KneeBinding. This binding is intended to mitigate Phantom Foot induced ACL injuries (which injury mechanism contributes to approx 70 to 80% of all skiing-ACL injuries; whereas BIAD -- noted above -- contributes to about 8 to 10% of all skiing-ACL injuries). I worked for 10-years withoput pay and applied my entire life's savings to develop this binding; then the investor that I brought into the company (who was to supply $1.5m, but only put-in $1m during the time he was supposed to put-in $1m) squeezed me out of my company beginning the day after he placed the investment (against his earlier promise not to) -- and we have been locked in a legal mess, including litigation, for the past 3-years. This binding, KneeBinding, when it meets my specifications, reduces ACL injuries. I have applied $300,000 to my lawyers to regain my binding company - and now need another $350,000 at this time to complete the mission in court. As soon as the judge rules that I can regain my binding company, I will complete its final development, then ship them to skiers everywhere. If I don't find a source for the remaining $350,000 for my lawyers, I will lose the litigation and the binding will die because the investor who stole my company and my technology has no clues on proper engineering, testing and marketing.... If any of you are serious about a solution, help me source the remaining $350,000 for my lawyers (can be paid directly to my lawyers to insure transparency) -- and we, ALL OF US, will have a real solution for the skiing knee injury situation. Rick Howell, Stowe, Vermont [www.HowellProductDev.com].