ISPO 2017 — Hanging out with Fritschi

Post by blogger | February 13, 2017      
This ISPO didn't have a lot of whoop-de-doo new products in the ski world. Fritschi Tecton thus stood out substantially and got a lot of booth traffic like this crew who stopped by for a glance.

This ISPO didn’t have a lot of whoop-de-doo new products in the skiing category. Fritschi Tecton thus stood out substantially and got a lot of booth traffic like this crew who stopped by for a glance.

While I’m often viewed with suspicion as a mouth breathing gear blogger who can’t keep a secret, some companies realize I’m a little more reasonable than that and let me have an inside view of their operations. To one degree or another, anyway.

I was looking for a “sponsor” to pick up a few hotel rooms in Munich for yours truly. Fritschi obliged. Turned out it was the same digs they’ve been using for 17 years. Understated, basic, situated in an industrial part of Munich next to a trucking warehouse. What, you thought the longest running ski touring binding company would be in the Hilton downtown? Not these guys. They’re Swiss. Practical. Logical. But not humorless as some prejudiced individuals would tell you. The fact that I shared a room with a chain smoking Slovakian truck driver proves my point (joking).

Fritschi PR guy Stephan and binding product manager Oliver took me to dinner, we had some good chuckles talking about ski touring culture in general as well as the world of tech bindings. Stephan totally got the allusion to Ultron in my blog post introducing their Tecton binding, and I think he figured out I was joking when I suggested they produce a video of a tibia bone exploding on a conventional tech binding, compared to a clean safety release from their Vipec side-release toe. I was proposing the use of a cadaver leg, and wondering whether it should be cut off below or above the knee. At that point we ordered wine.

We also had the usual talk about what the heck to call these things. “Pintech, or Pin, or Tech?” Stephen appeared to still be keen on his term “safety pin” for their first introduction of the Vipec. I reminded him that in English, diaper pins were safety pins, but I acknowledged that safety pins have probably been used for everything from repairing a nuclear power plant to replacing a button on a dirndl. So watch for the “safety pin” terminology to make a resurgence next season, perhaps along with a Tecton compatible dirndl.

Getting down to brass tacks, or safety pins, or whatever, we did discuss what’s going on with the Tecton. Firstly, this cool hybrid of an alpine heel and safety pin toe has been the talk of the shows — and an object of freerider desire that rivals cute 22-year-old rich girls said freeriders pursue at Davos once they’ve skied out all the powder. Stephan and Oliver assured me that production is going well and retail will begin this coming fall. Just as importantly, the pre-production samples will be going out in weeks to those of us on the list. Is WildSnow included? Stay tuned.

One thing I always notice about Fritschi is the demeanor of owner Andreas Fritschi. This guy has always had a smile and a gracious word for myself and Lisa when we’ve visited in the past — no different this time. I’m not sure how much English is spoken by Andreas, but his pronunciation of the words “champagne” and “powder” are excellent, and seem to be frequently associated with both Colorado and Hokkaido. He gets around.

In any case, I did get some technical stuff squared away with Fritschi, a few details below.

La Sportiva Trab S4 tech fittings with step-in cone.

La Sportiva Trab S4 tech fittings with step-in cone. These are interesting because with most tech bindings you can truly step into the toe — without the toe being open for entry! Try it and you’ll instantly like it. Burning question is if you can do the same with a Fritschi Vipec or Tecton. Answer is no, you can’t do the direct step-in because the Fritschi toe wings are very rigid (a good thing), but the S4 does help with regular entry into a Fritschi. Thanks to both companies for making an effort to clarify this.

Boot with S4 fittings in a Vipec toe, release is fine and step-in is slightly easier.

Boot with S4 fittings in a Vipec toe, release is fine and step-in is slightly easier. But again, you can’t just step the boot down down and in without opening the binding, as you can with many other tech bindings.

A style note, while they're Swiss and not Italian.

A style note, while they’re Swiss and not Italian, and thus a rather boring combination of black and white, yes you CAN have some colors on Fritschi Vipec and Tecton bindings. This little circled thing is called a ‘color clip’ and its sole purpose is to add color, which in this case matches the currently vogue green-yellow theme of this hard charging outfit.

Near as I could tell, the video below saw its “premier” at ISPO, pretty good visuals of how Tecton works:

For weights and such please see our original post about Tecton and upgraded Vipec.


Please Enjoy A Few Suggested WildSnow Posts


17 Responses to “ISPO 2017 — Hanging out with Fritschi”

  1. Jim Milstein February 13th, 2017 10:02 am

    You are out of date, Lou. There are no truck drivers from Czechoslovakia, and there is no Czechoslovakia anymore. It’s Czechia and Slovakia now.

  2. See February 13th, 2017 10:23 am

    I would be concerned that stepping into the binding toes without opening them would cause wear problems for the pins. And I’m definitely not getting rid of those old BD Primes in my closet.

  3. Lou Dawson 2 February 13th, 2017 1:13 pm

    Jim, I’m so provincial it hurts! I’d better edit my quickie little sentence so it doesn’t sound so ignorant. Thing is, I’d totally forgotten about that and I swear a guy I met around a year ago over here said he was a Czech. So confusing for my addled mind! Lou

  4. Dave Johnson February 13th, 2017 6:36 pm

    Cool video, cool looking binding. Questions…weight compared to Radical 2 and Kingpin? Wonder if this will move Dynafit to a releasable toe piece…doubt they’ll tell.
    Hope you get the over to DPS.

  5. David February 13th, 2017 11:25 pm

    Lou, you wrote “I suggested they produce a video of a tibia bone exploding on a conventional tech binding, compared to a clean safety release from their Vipec side-release toe.”

    Well, I just had an experience that is frighteningly close to that scenario just last week. On a steep (about 35-40 degree) slope I turned on what I thought was a nice fluffy pillow, but turned out to be deceptively shallow snow cover over a very big rock with a 4 foot drop on the down side. Somehow one ski got caught in a crack in the downhill side of the rock. Thanks to the side release of the Vipec toe piece, I came out of the binding, and tumbled down head over heels a couple of times until I was able to self arrest, but I was unhurt. I suspect that without that side release I would have sustained a nasty spiral fracture. The ski was actually stuck in that fissure in the rock when I climbed up to get it.

    I’m sold on the Vipec’s now!

  6. Lou2 February 14th, 2017 1:01 am

    (Stupid auto corrector on my traveling phone, having trouble turning it OFF!) Trapped ski is indeed one-off the worst things am glad you are OK! I’m actually gaining a better understanding of how a certain famous tweeter actually ends up with part of his style OK! Lou

  7. Matus February 14th, 2017 2:42 am

    So did actualy sleep in one room with the smoking Slovak truck driver? That must have been and adventure and…torture 🙂

  8. Lou Dawson 2 February 14th, 2017 5:30 am

    Chain smoker, but he also ski toured and did use Fritschi bindings exclusively. Lou

  9. Lou Dawson 2 February 14th, 2017 5:52 am

    Dave Johnson, some weight infos in our first Tecton post:

    Tecon 550 grams per binding without brake, about 80 grams for one brake, for what it is, that’s an amazing weight. Aluminum and modern plastics do the job.

    Radical 2 and Kingpin weights:

  10. Lou Dawson 2 February 14th, 2017 5:57 am

    See, I wonder about wear myself. Not so much on the pins but on the boot fittings. Thing is, the boot fittings might get a score groove but it would be at the bottom of the fitting where it probably would not influence performance too much, though it could get to a point where rolling deflection of the boot cause a release. Believe me, we’ll be experimenting with these. Keep in mind the Trab “cone” fitting is more oriented to racing, where split seconds on transitions are key. But it could be nice for touring, though with a stiff binding it will require some force to step in, and thus might not be comfortable on soft snow that doesn’t support the ski. Lou

  11. Jim Milstein February 14th, 2017 7:22 am

    Speaking, David, as a happy Vipec user, I wonder whether you think a lateral heel release (the usual way for most tech bindings) would not have happened in your case to save your tibia. Glad it was saved, however the mechanism.

    To See’s point about toe pin wear, it would seem the points could be blunted, but so what? Most of the wear on the pins and their fittings is rotational during touring and keeps them mated. (Unless you are swapping boots and bindings often. Still, so what?)

  12. See February 14th, 2017 9:38 am

    As has been pointed out by Lou many times, minute variations in the pin-socket interface can have a big effect on release function of tech binding toes. What sort of wear would stepping in to closed toe pieces cause? I don’t know, but blunt points sounds likely. So what? I don’t know, but I suspect it could lower lateral retention. Any other possible problems this new “feature” could lead to? I don’t know, but, like I said, I would be concerned if I was an early adopter type.

  13. Jim Milstein February 14th, 2017 9:53 am

    Yes, wait and See

  14. See February 14th, 2017 10:04 am

    I guess early adopters tend not to be concerned by this sort of thing. Still, I hope Lou’s optimistic assessment that “what’s been a tiresome drone of durability and design problems is quieting down to a dull murmur” is correct.

  15. See February 14th, 2017 2:12 pm

    So Jim, re. the wait and see attitude: 1) if there is a problem, by the time people catch on to it, a lot of damage may already have been done, and 2) without good data, problems may never be identified. As I see it, inadequate testing and data collection are real problems. Of course, maybe you just couldn’t resist the wordplay.

  16. David February 16th, 2017 8:47 pm

    Jim- I am not sure if the lateral heel release would not have released with the same outcome (it all transpired so fast I am still not sure exactly what happened)- maybe it would have. My experience is not data of course, just anecdote. Perhaps I’m just biased in comparing it to an alpine binding toe mech, but when I bought the bindings the independent side toe release was one of the things that made me decide to get the Vipecs instead of the Dynafits or G3s.

  17. Lou 2 February 16th, 2017 11:02 pm

    David and all, I’ll that everything I’ve learned about binding release leads me to believe that releasing to the side at the toe is sometimes better for protecting bone, and releasing to the side at the heel is sometimes better for protecting ligaments. I’d thus suggest that in terms of overall “safety” it could be a wash.

    ASSUMING either type of binding is skied at chart indicated release-retention numbers. Thing is, side release at front could be less prone to accidental release, because while skiing the same forces that push to the side at the heel can also trigger an accidental release with binding that releases to the side at the heel. Thus, important, a lot of people ski classic tech bindings with their release-retention values dialed up, and doing so might not be as necessary with a binding that releases to the side at the toe.

    Lastly, the binding with the heel unit that doesn’t rotate is going to have a different feel while skiing. Especially in aggressive skiing it might feel more “solid.” This is a non factor for myself and many others, but for some it is a valid consideration.


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