ISMF Bans After-Market Rando Race Heels

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Since last ski season, rumors have been flying about (well, flying in certain obscure circles anyway) that the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (yes, such an organization exists, and yes, they all probably wear lycra and ski on Dynafits, especially the really super-small binding models) would ban any sort of major ski boot modifications. I finally looked up the ISMF Sports Regulations for this coming season, and this is indeed correct (unlike all those old rumors about carbon fiber poles being banned).

Oddly enough, a boot weight minimum is still imposed, although at 2.2 pounds a pair, sure doesn’t seem like a concern for anyone. (Ski weight minimum is actually pretty close to many production rando race skis at 3.3 pounds per pair.)

But even more interesting to many WildSnowers is that after-market race heels are now banned:

“Mixed bindings (front part from one manufacturer and rear part from another one) are not to be [sic] allowed.” (bottom of p. 7) That means only ATK and Schia Meccanica can compete with Dynafit at the very highest levels of the sport.

Now granted, this applies only to ISMF events and any events that adopt ISMF rules. (Do any U.S. or Canadian events do so? I honestly don’t know. And if so, this would clearly ban telemark bindings – and no, not because they’re too fast…)

Given how all those after-market race heels are targeted at Euro racers, many (most?) of whom have access to ISMF events even if
they’re not super hard-core competitors, this is a pretty interesting development. (Well, okay, interesting to all those out there who are both professional economists and rando racers . . . which would be me, and uh, any other kindred souls out there?)

However, according to Lou, who’s now been around or in a few races over there much of this stuff isn’t enforced unless you’re a top racer. This is a similar situation to the enforcement of U.S. Ski Association alpine race gear rules for middling and back-of-the-pack competitors. What’s more, Lou says lots of European ski tourers use race gear, so that still creates a market as well for mix/match setups.

As always, the evolution of this relatively new sport is fun to behold. (Well, at least to me — and speaking of me, which of you ambitious rando racers wants to be the first to offer me your cool after-market race heels at a big discount since you can’t use them at the PDG?

(WildSnow guest blogger Jonathan Shefftz lives with his wife and daughter in Western Massachusetts, where he is a member of the Northfield Mountain and Thunderbolt / Mt Greylock ski patrols. Formerly an NCAA alpine race coach, he has broken free from his prior dependence on mechanized ascension to become far more enamored of self-propelled forms of skiing. He is an AIARE-qualified instructor, NSP avalanche instructor, and contributor to the American Avalanche Association’s The Avalanche Review. When he is not searching out elusive freshies in Southern New England or promoting the NE Rando Race Series, he works as a financial economics consultant.)

Comments

28 Responses to “ISMF Bans After-Market Rando Race Heels”

  1. Jonathan Shefftz October 23rd, 2009 4:58 pm

    Just to clarify, offers to sell me your race heels at a big discount can be posted here, thanks!

  2. Charlie October 23rd, 2009 9:23 pm

    What’s the argument in favor of the rule? At first glance, it looks like it’s protecting the big manufacturer and harming innovation.

  3. Mark October 23rd, 2009 10:20 pm

    Banning aftermarket heels seems silly. Even if I run carbon titanal heels designed by Jacquez Piccard, I still have to spend a couple hundred bucks on Dynafit toe pieces.

  4. Simon October 24th, 2009 3:10 am

    Hi, there are more alternatives to the bindings listed above, crazy of italy now have a complete set of race bindings at a super low price compared to the competition

    http://www.crazyidea.it/contents.php?cmd=catalogo&cid=8&pid=165

    The French company PLUM have race bindings:

    http://www.fixation-plum.com/catalogue-fixations.php?lang=fr

    and for those on a budget Dynafit now do a speed race binding with the TLT toe and race heel sold as a complete package.

    I myself am in a bit of a dilemma in that I am looking at buying a retro fit F1 carbon cuff to fit to my F1′s but am unsure of how far the race officials here in France will take the ‘no boot mod’ rule. A german site selling super light F1 locking levers is even warning people to clarify the new rules before purchasing and fitting them.

    I do agree with an earlier comment though that these new rules will only be aimed at elite racers and probably only world cup level races and major championships. Since the UCI brought out rules stating that race bikes had to weigh no less than 6.8 kg, I do not know of any club racers having had their bikes weighed.

    If anyone has any experience of the retro fit carbon cuff from Scarpa, please let me know.

    Many thanks for this excellent site,

    Simon

  5. Jonathan Shefftz October 24th, 2009 8:08 am

    Simon, many thanks the additions – I had no idea so many complete race binding sets now exist. Then again, with the pending mix & match ban, makes sense that the after-market heel industry would expand into complete bindings.

    I have a Crazy Idea rando suit and it’s very well designed. (Well, except for the prominent “Crazy” text – not sure I really need to broadcast my state of mind that way…) I vaguely recall that the Crazy website had a race heel before, but seems like they now sell only the complete set? (Might just be my difficulty navigating through the Italian-only website.)

    The Plum line-up is impressively comprehensive. Like ATK and Schia, Plum offers a separate plate to add fore/aft adjustability, and also like those competitors, the binding seems easily rebuildable. And like Dynafit, Plum has a little clip to attach ski crampons. But in addition to all that, Plum has a unique offset heel pedestal (available in 2mm, 3mm, or 4mm), which could either be used for switching boots, or correcting a mount that was slightly off fore-aft. Very clever!

    Does that Trab race binding really exist yet? The website says it’s not available for purchase. Trab’s touring binding isn’t supposed to be available until the 2010-2011 season, and I haven’t heard anything about a race binding from them.

    The Dynafit mix & match is certainly economical, but I don’t see it on the Dynafit website. I suspect that etailer is assembling it from skiers who want to pair the Dynafit race toe with after-market race heels, which then leaves them with extra Dynafit race heels. But with that kind of setup now banned from ISMF races, I wonder if their supply will dry up? Plus the website says it’s not available?

    The U.S. PNW Trab rep has those F1 after-market cf cuffs. (He also has the PG boot.) I’ll see if he can report here on his impressions.

    And thanks again for all those links – very hard to learn about such products in the U.S.!

  6. Rick Knowles October 24th, 2009 2:55 pm

    Jonathon has seen my garage and what I was fiddling with at the time.

    I first mounted the CF cuff on a used and lightened F1 lower- it was too stiff in comparison. Last year I switched the CF cuff to a F1 Race lower and swapped the buckles with other after market goodies. It skis fairly good; but not in comparison with the full CF Boots. The Scarpa boots skin better; but CF boots boot up the hill better. I also took my old highly modified F1 lower and used a cut up F1 cuff to make a great touring/XC trail boot- light and comfortable. All 3 boots have similar closure systems and I like that style; but don’t expect the same performance of the big heavy boots.

    I like the cable routing systems like the PG CF Boots- their are a few people in Europe that make aftermarket kits- so have them on my F1 boots too. The problem with most of the fits is they use plastic cable clamps- they break at the worst time and I injured my knee last year. Go to a boot repair shop and use the metal peices they use for hiking boots and they can rivet it on- so it ends up weighing less since you won’t need nuts and bolts. Hope this answers the questions.

  7. Simon October 24th, 2009 3:41 pm

    Hi Rick thanks for the information, I guess it all comes down to cash in the end.
    €380 and ski /skin better or save the money and pay €1300 for PG 444′s and forget yoy have boots on at all. I think I may wait until the first races in December and try to borrow/test some boots after the races.

    Jonathan, you thought all the new bindings were out now,well I forgot one, montura the italian outdoor clothing company have brought out a race binding too. Maybe its a re-named clone of someone elses work I don’t know. Interesting video of its mechanical action and how it is set to ski mode or fully locked race mode and not just a straight lock as on the ATK. Video can be found in the small window at the top right of this page, also a small clip of the La Sportiva Stratos CF bank breaker in action too:

    http://fondoskialp.it/home.php

    Regards,

    Simon

  8. James October 24th, 2009 4:10 pm

    The ISMF is under a lot of scrutiny by the IOC given their increased effort to have skimo racing as an Olympic event. I think these new equipment rules by the ISMF are an effort to standardize things a little in order to give a better impression. If you look at xc or alpine racing, equipment is fairly standardized though there are more manufacturers involved. Personally, I think the ISMF could do better by concentrating on things such as doping and developing the sport better outside of Europe. As for people that want to get into racing here in NA. I wouldn’t worry too much about the ISMF rules. Most events in Canada and the US are loosely regulated and only the top dozen or so racers are checked against ISMF rules.

    As for the boot mods. I believe you can still use modified boots if the modifying is performed by a third party (eg: Crazy Idea will carbonize and lighten up your F1s) that has a modification agreement with the original manufacturer. This, of course, takes all the fun out of it but at least it’s an alternative to dropping $1500 on a pair of new carbon boots. That said, I think Crazy Idea is selling CF F1 cuffs for the low low price of about 500Euro…burn.

    As for non-World Cup/Championship races like the PDG and Pierra Menta. I believe mixed sets are still a go since ISMF rules do not govern these events. That said, I think the PDG requires both frontal and lateral release mechanisms which some of the race binding models do not accommodate.

    For people looking for a light race binding that covers all these bases the Dynafit Vertical Race Ti is a good bet. It’s cheap too :wink:

  9. Jonathan Shefftz October 24th, 2009 4:11 pm

    Wow, these things are so popular in Europe that even their equivalent of TNF is getting in on it!
    Based upon close inspection of this:
    http://tinyurl.com/yh3gvvl
    … sure seems like an original design. (At first I thought the heel looked like an ATK, but the shape is significantly different.)

  10. Jonathan Shefftz October 24th, 2009 4:24 pm

    “The ISMF is under a lot of scrutiny by the IOC given their increased effort to have skimo racing as an Olympic event. I think these new equipment rules by the ISMF are an effort to standardize things a little in order to give a better impression. If you look at xc or alpine racing, equipment is fairly standardized though there are more manufacturers involved.”
    - Interesting, thanks, that would explain the change.
    - The irony though is that I now realized the newly emerging market for rando race bindings is pretty big! If I’m counting it right (thanks to Simon’s info), complete sets are available from seven companies: Dynafit, ATK, Schia, Crazy, Plum, Trab (?), and Montura. By contrast, xc is just Salomon and Rottefella. Alpine downhill racing is only five: Salomon, Atomic, Marker, Tyrolia (often rebadged), Look/Rossi (same binding).

    “As for the boot mods. I believe you can still use modified boots if the modifying is performed by a third party (eg: Crazy Idea will carbonize and lighten up your F1s) that has a modification agreement with the original manufacturer.”
    - Yes, but will Scarpa maintain that agreement now that it wants to sell its own F1 Carbon?

  11. James October 24th, 2009 5:52 pm

    Good point. I doubt Scarpa will maintain this agreement. But they probably won’t need to anyway because CF will be main-stream in a year or two and everyone on the race circuit will be buying the carbon version anyway. Racers won’t need to modify their boots. I can also see Scarpa going CF on the lower in the next couple of years and doing away with the bellow or at least stiffening it up somehow. PGs rigid boots are starting to dominate especially now with the 444 model. I personally like the bellow and will be running F1 carbons this season.

  12. roca October 26th, 2009 9:13 am

    Hi guys,
    yes the race scene is getting big here in europe,

    just to add a link to what is in my opinion one of the most interesting new bindings, the new merelli r8, you know mereli skis if you are interested in races…these are an astonishing 105 gr. , making them the lightest on market I believe.

    you also forgot colibrì by ivan murada, another italian product (http://www.colibri-italia.com/)

    The haereo by montura which were in video above will be probably next season bindings for the italian army team, which was the strongest team in the world in last season . very nice binding too.

    so to resume:
    -merelli 105 gr.
    -haereo 120gr.
    -atk 125gr
    -colibrì around 130 gr.
    -felisaz PLUM 135 and 145 gr
    - ski trab racing light 150gr.
    -crazy idea 159 gr.
    -dynafit 160gr.
    -meccanica schio ?
    these are all complete sets, then there are some more heels (gignoux for example).

    but 105 gr is amazing….

  13. Jonathan Shefftz October 26th, 2009 10:17 am

    Wow, there’s even more! By my count that’s nine different companies (either already available or in the pipeline).
    (And love how that one heel unit has only three screws – anything to get the weight down even further.)
    So okay, I now realize that the blog should have been restructured as “Expanding Market in Rando Race Bindings,” noting only on the side that ISMF has now banned mixed setups but that such a ban is largely moot given the wide range of choices. But hey, thanks to more clued-in readers than me, we got to the truth eventually!

  14. Lou October 26th, 2009 10:31 am

    Yeah, we predicted a few years ago, as the Dynafit binding patents expired, that we’d see an explosion in knock-offs. What’s interesting is that most of the “tech” bindings don’t bother with much (if any) any certifications or standards compliance, which gives them a lot of freedom compared to the mother ship company.

    For example, the bindings that lock you into touring mode (automatic release lockout when you step in) are really cool — a feature I’d really like to have. But the safety folks don’t take too kindly to a binding that locks out safety release when you put it on!

  15. roca October 26th, 2009 1:17 pm

    lou,
    both merelli and haereo are said to be ahead of what you say: they are suopposed to be automatic AND safe…that is they probably have 3 positions locked , safe, and a “high din” but opens. (as onyx). Probably automatic in “high din” position, but I am not sure.
    this is very interesting feature, and makes these two new products very very interesting and advanced.
    In my opinion both will be safer than dynafit race…and lighter..and they look better. Possibly cheaper.
    I think fight has come and dynafit has to get used and answer…felisaz are already making a tourist binding… ski trab working on that.
    I love dynafit and their products, but they must be carefull, too used to sell “same binding for 20 years” with huge margins.
    first field trials in a couple of weeks on both on italian magazines…

  16. roca October 26th, 2009 1:18 pm

    oh Lou,
    I have read you are heading to some 7000 mts in himalaya.

    105 gr for binding are quite interesting up there….difficoult to resist.

  17. Lou October 26th, 2009 1:56 pm

    Roca, I’m heading for Denali and I’m taking lightweight ski gear so I can carry it to the summit, that’s for sure!

  18. Brooks October 26th, 2009 3:04 pm

    Anyone know if the boot rule excludes getting rid of the vibram on the insoles of the F1′s? The race version doesn’t have a sole there, so is it ok to remove it from a standard F1? As long as you meet the rules for the lugs is it ok? I just started cutting mine last night! :(

  19. Brooks October 26th, 2009 3:05 pm

    insoles is the wrong word – across the arch of the shell is better wording. So – between the front lug surface and the heel lug surface. through the arch of the foot!

    Thanks!

  20. James Minifie October 26th, 2009 3:54 pm

    Brooks,
    Unless you’re heading over to Europe to race this season I wouldn’t worry too much about grinding down the midsoles on your F1s. Even if you are, I doubt anymore will check. They’ll probably just pity you for having regular F1s lined up along side all of the carbon boots! There’s a lot of meat on those souls, I did mine with a grinder and dremel and I couldn’t believe how much rubber came off! If you have the newer F1s you can also pop the tongues out without ruining the fasteners and save another 100g/boot. You can just pop the tongues back in when not racing.

    Roca,
    You seem to be pretty dialed in to the binding selection for ultra-lights. If you come across any weight restrictions on any of these models could you pass it along. I believe the lightest Felisaz model (with Ti spring) has a limit of 70kg. I think the ATK Race model also has a restriction but don’t know what it is. I know this doesn’t matter for 60kg racers but for people thinking about using these for a mountaineering application, it might be useful info.

    I guess the other point about all of these bindings options is good luck getting them (unless that French or Italian girl you dated once is still talking to you). Production runs are limited, most retailers won’t ship outside the EU (in my experience), if fact, many of these manufacturers don’t even have retailers. And even with the advent of so many more producers, the prices are still very hige (400-600 Euro). And then there’s the problem of finding a surgeon-like ski tech to mount them sans any kind of jig. And you better hope he doesn’t mess up because those carbon skis came all the way from Europe also and are very hard to replace or re-drill. One place over there I find great is telemark-pyrenees.com. Great service/support and a pretty good line-up of race gear. Though they only sell the Dynafit binding at the moment.

  21. Simon October 26th, 2009 4:25 pm

    Brooks,

    I can’t see that there will be that amount of attention paid to these new mod rules. There are races week in, week out here in France with hundreds of racers in modified F1′s. Now unless Scarpa have someone on the board of the ISMF, then I can’t see people being turned away. At around €400 a pair, all these guys cannot afford to go out and get new boots because of this new rule, the same way the race organisers cannot afford to turn them away. The situation would be total chaos with only the PG CF boot boys and sponsored athletes on the line. I have cut the sole on my boots, have chord in place of cables and no tongues but truly believe I’ll be starting all the races I enter.
    If all goes wrong though, it would be a nice excuse to the wife to get a pair of PG 444′s though :wink:

  22. Jonathan Shefftz October 26th, 2009 5:21 pm

    I know someone who ground a whole lotta rubber off the arch area of his stock F1 boots and then participated in a rando race that featured a ladder ascent, after which he wrote to me, “I also figured out why they put all the rubber in the F1 sole.”

  23. roca October 28th, 2009 3:48 am

    - I do not know about weight limits, I just suggest to mail directly to atk or other producers, they usually answer. You are right not many big boys using this stuff over here. all damn skinny
    -I also think you cna get them directly by producers, atk sells online, crazy idea also, colibrì would probaly do if contacted directly by mail, felisaz also…
    Also http://www.verticalworld.it/magento/index.php/ . this is one of the main shops inItaly for racing stuff thay got almost anything and really prepared. Probably they would also ship.. (owner diego Amplaz is the guru in this world developed for example the new la sportive shoe)
    I do not think you will have problem in finding, only carbon shoes are sold out for the season, bindings I tink will be easly available. prices are crazy but as you see colibri or felisaz or creazy idea can be lower prices (they are 40% off dynafit official price..) and less Hi tech

    -mounting them is quite a problem, especially without the mounting hardware that bigger shops have. Very useful are the adjusting plates some producers supply for another 20-30 gr. you can move the heel and change shoes or fine tune . See atk adjusting plate but also others from above list make.

    - as regrds ISMF: actually the rules for materials ARE decided by a manufacturer\’s pool in which according to the fee paid you can get up to five votes. I would bet Scarpa is a platinum member…

    It kind of \"stinks\" for those who loved the old racing scene but…
    As regard how these new rules will be applied here in Europe… who knows? I am afraid that there will be different behaviour in any different race depending on who judge at the place…I think that they will pass over cables- strings exchanges or changed levers, not on holes and cut collars and shoe strings, soles…depending, some look like out of producer factory, some like a swiss cheese…

  24. Simon October 31st, 2009 3:09 am

    Guys, I have a question thats kind of off topic but this seems a good a place as any. It is about modifications to Dynafit toe pieces. On my rando setup I have a TLT speed toe piece and a race heel. I am keen to change the current excenter levers for the longer model fitted to the TLT vertical. I have spoken to a ski tech here in France, and in a very broken English/French conversation, I think he was trying to point out that this combination may not work too well with a scarpa F1 and I believe the reason to be something to do with a slight adjustment in the distance between the pins once a change had been made.

    The reason for changing is due to the fact that often, after race transitions, I have found that the lever has not been pulled far enough back and I then lose a ski on the first kick turn. This is partly due to my haste and partly to cold fingers in thin gloves or warm fingers but in larger gloves. I have taken a good look at the verticals and the operation of the excenter seems far more posotive and gives you a secure feeling that its fully back wear you need it to be first time.

    So, does anyone have any experience or advice on this matter?

    Many thanks in advance,

    Simon

  25. roca November 7th, 2009 5:33 am

    with ATk and so you do not need to pull anithing automatic

  26. Jonathan Shefftz November 7th, 2009 6:59 am

    “I am keen to change the current excenter levers for the longer model fitted to the TLT vertical.”

    - The Vertical ST lever is a bit easier to grab, so I suppose it would be a bit quicker for race transitions (if you don’t want to switch over to an autolocking competitor).
    - I don’t see how the every so slightly different pincer clearance on the Vertical ST versus the older Speed/Classic/Comfort is going to make any difference with the F1. Plenty of people must have used the Vertical ST with the F3, and I’ve never heard of problems with that.
    - Are you going to need to swap out Vertical ST’s plastic base plate for the Speed base plate you already have there , otherwise you’re going to end up with very flat or maybe even negative toe/heel delta. Actually, who knows, maybe you’d even like the way it skis, but the Vertical ST baseplate will add a few ounces, which is pretty counterproductive given that you have a race heel.
    - I’m pretty sure this swap will work, since the Vertical ST baseplate is identical to the baseplate for the final years of the Comfort, and the Comfort toe unit is the same as the Speed/Classic.

  27. Simon November 7th, 2009 9:25 am

    Hi, it’s done and it works great. I got a set of the vertical excenters and just changed the plastic lever for the smaller one on the TLT. Its so easy, just push out one pin re-fit the spring and straight back together. I can only think that the ski tech I spoke with thought that the longer lever would come into contact with the ski before the jaws were fully open, but this is not the case. Now there is something to get your hand onto and no doubt that the binding is locked into tour mode or not. No more lost skis on the kick turns I hope. It won’t make me any faster but I am sure feeling happier and more secure. As for the base plate at the front and the race heel, well this winter lots of shops in France have them as pairs called the speed race, don’t know if it a made up pairing but it saves €200 on the titanium toe piece and works fine.

    thanks for the replies,

    Simon

  28. Jonathan Shefftz November 7th, 2009 9:28 am

    Ahh, so you swapped only the toe lever, and not the entire toe unit?
    If so, interesting that those parts are interchangeable.

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