Today’s skis come with strange signs on their top sheet. Back in the day of straight and long sticks there was one simple line where you put your bindings and that was all. Mogul skiers sometimes mounted ~1cm forward for increased ability in fast short turns. But it was pretty simple and you didn’t have to think about the issue that much at all.
Then came the super sidecuts, fat skis, twin tips and all the modern gimmicks. You began to see young guys mounting their bindings even forward of the true middle point of the whole skis!. For the old school skier something like that sounds pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it? But wait, as the ski industry started to notice that not everyone is a GS skier that just want to cruise groomers on maximum speeds, things got more complicated also for the user of the equipment. Now you had to know what you want to do with the skis, what’s your ability, favorite terrain etc.
K2 skis has been on the forefront with the thought that binding mount is a personal preference. That’s what I found on their web site, and I think it is pretty spot on:
With today’s twin tip all mountain, and park and pipe specific skis, riders are commonly mounting their skis forward from a traditional mid sole mounting point. The main benefits are increased control when riding or landing switch, and a more neutral balance in the air or on rails. For this season, all Factory Team skis have a mounting scale on the sidewall running from traditional mid sole mark, to a 7.5 cm forward marking. Following is a general guideline for where to mount these skis. If you are uncertain, the best bet is to go conservative at first and stick to a traditional mount.
0 to 2cm forward
All Mountain Riding – If you plan on skiing mostly outside the park, and want the ski to behave like a traditional ski, you should stay on the conservative side and mount closer to the traditional mid sole mark.
3 to 5 cm forward
50% All Mountain, 50% Terrain Park – When mounting beyond 3 cm, you will lose a little of the traditional feel of length in front of the binding, but with more tail, you gain the control in the air and riding switch. Seth Morrison mounts his skis at 5 cm forward.
6 cm to 7.5 cm forward
Terrain Park or Switch Riding – If you bought the skis primarily for the terrain park, or are focused on riding switch in the backcountry, you may consider mounting your skis this far forward. While you may sacrifice forward directional float and stability, it’s made up for in switch riding and landing balance and performance. From 6 cm to 7.5 cm forward is where Pep, Benchetler and Mahre typically mount their skis.
You see, today’s skiers differ from each others, and quite a lot of actually. I have a strong old school mogul background for instance and like to be able to drive the tips and stay forward in any situation. Still, I like to do some park skiing too and try some switch stuff here and there. I’ve also noticed that even on big mountain skis I like some tail for some added stability on landings (not that I go too big but still…).
So, it is pretty easy to see that I’m somewhere on the middle ground of the pure all mountain skier and a hard core new school jibber. If I would buy new K2 skis I’d probably mount them somewhere around +1 to +4 depending on the model. For a pure park ski I would go even further forward. (See the pic below: the author skiing crud on the older 189cm K2 Seth Pistols mounted at +4. The mount felt a bit too forward but still totally manageable, even on tricky snow!)
The mounting point is no big dilemma. You just have to know what you want and if you are unsure consult your local ski shop and/or the skiers in the know (I’d say demoing alot of skis, if possible, is the key here). On most cases it is pretty safe to mount the bindings for the recommended “traditional” (often called “mid sole” point) mark. This applies for most piste/intermediate skis, as well for most race skis too. Freeride skis are different animals though – at least you probably see “traditional” and “modern” line on most skis today, meaning that you can choose the more traditional (all-mountain, mostly go forward) ski behaviour or the more modern, freestyle oriented style (switch riding, take offs and landings, rails and jibs etc.).
I like the thinking of K2 where they see the graph as a continuum: not just traditional vs. new school but a much more complicated choice of personal preference. Remember that it is very much possible to do switch tricks with traditional mount and ski big lines (well) on close to center mounted skis, it just take some adaption and skills, of course.
Ok, some might think that this info was pretty useless – trust your shop and manufacturers recommendations etc. Anyway, I’ve found out that the internet is full of questions considering the mounting points of different skis. And that these questions have raised a lot of insecurity, especially among the less experienced skiers. Quite a lot of people also seem to follow current trends pretty blindly without any real clue of what they are doing.
Avoiding most common mistakes:
1. As k2 recommended: If you are uncertain, the best bet is to go conservative at first and stick to a traditional mount.
2. However, if you are screwed, don’t hesitate to remount. A general rule is that a well constructed ski takes two to three mounts easily without any problems.
3. If you want just one pair of skis with real all-mountain ability, demo bindings are one solution. So you can easily move the binding point for different purposes. Demo bindings have their disadvantages though (additional weight, additional height, some “slop” on the system etc.). If you are a recreational skier that skis only under ~15 days a year, demo bindings could serve you very well.
4. All good shops know this but it is not stupid to always check: don’t trust the marks on the top sheet, they are often mislocated and surprisingly much too (this is due to manufacturing process of the skis, I won’t go into details here). Marks on the sidewall are much better reference but if you want be 100 percent sure – MEASURE. Using the standard method of always measuring from the tail (or tip) of the skis, you can’t go wrong. This is especially important if you mount your own skis (then you probably know what you are doing anyway!) but I’ve also noticed that some shops think quite conservatively and tend to mismount when asked to center mount/mount far forward. Measuring first and then giving the exact binding location to the shop is always a good way to make sure you get what you want.
5. Stiff and straight skis tend to be more sensitive for small changes of the binding location. Do not get too experimental with the so called “charger” skis (e.g. Rossinol Bandit B-Squads, Head Supermojo 103′s, Igneous FF’s etc.) (Too) long, stiff tail leads easily to very bad skiing, for many different reasons.