The Highly Bearable Lightness of Rando Race Ski Gear

Post by blogger | January 10, 2011      

The start was innocent. After half a decade of Diamir-induced excessive exertion, I sold my trusty heavy old-school boots for the Scarpa Matrix, and I finally bought a pair of Comforts to upgrade my BD Mira skis. Along with that came a pair of TLT IV/Tech/Classic/Speed bindings for, well, hmm, a discount etailer was selling – or rather, nearly giving away – the Atomic TM:11 rando race ski for around 80 bucks. Sure, why not? Well, because of what eventually ensued . . .

Over the years, I upgraded to the even lighter Atomic MX:20 skis, experimented with the Dynafit MLT4 boots, modified the Scarpa F1 race boot, and lightened up my Dynafit bindings a bit with some parts from B&D. Good enough. Or so I thought . . .

Last season I succumbed to Dynafit DyNA race boot temptation, not so much for use as a race boot but just because of its quickly acquired reputation as an outstanding touring boot. But still, with that boot in hand, or rather on foot, upgrading the rest of the setup and losing over a pound of weight was like an irresistible siren song, not so much for competition but because I have lots of local options for groomer skinning, while realistically my driving radius for seeking freshies is becoming more limited on account of my little proto skier (i.e., infant daughter).

For race bindings, the choices are numerous but the details on release capability seemed to be along the lines of don’t ask don’t tell (or is that don’t fall?) and availability in North America is limited (to put it mildly).

The new Trab race binding is now available in North America, yet lacks a ski crampon attachment point should I ever want to use my race setup for real touring.

The Dynafit race binding looks amazing but didn’t appear to be available yet. The older Dynafit race heel is now combined with the standard Speed toe for the Low Tech Light but the release values are still a complete unknown with widely varying impressions from various users.

The new ATK touring binding is being distributed in North America this season by the La Sportiva distributor, but only the RT binding, not the race binding.

I decided (eventually) upon the Plum race binding.

New Movement Fish skis, new Plum race bindings, beat-up DyNA boots.

I went with the 135 model, which with screws weighs in at an actual 10.7 ounces, 303 grams (per pair!), plus 0.3 ounces for the optional ski crampon holder. The toe lever automatically goes into tour mode upon entry, but a new “safety device” retrofit will allow it to be skied in ski mode too. “Will allow” are the operative words however, since the date has been pushed back for that.

Mounting was (relatively) easy as one of my alpine downhill mounting jigs replicated the 20cm LeftRight heel unit hole pattern, the Plum website hosts a helpful mounting video, and Plum emailed me a heel template that I printed on transparency film. (Like all rando race bindings, the toe unit adheres to the back four holes of the Dynafit mounting pattern.) The toe pincers arrive unaffixed, allowing the pincer span to be dialed in exactly (although I just set it equal to my various Dynafit setups).

Boot resting on heel elevator -- rotate the red cover back to engage the pins in ski mode.

Plum stated (with various caveats) that the release values were the equivalent of 7 both lateral and forward (with 9 forward on the 145 model). The biggest caveat is that currently the toe unit can be skied only in “locked” mode, although the heel unit can be combined with a standard Dynafit toe.

Ski choices are also numerous although somewhat more straightforward since a ski is, well, just a ski, and the competition is very similar in terms of weight and dimensions.

The Trab Duo Race Aero has for many years been the baseline for comparison, and I can certainly understand how a slightly narrower and lighter version of my beloved Duo Sint Aero would be ideal. The Dynafit race ski has impressive specs.

Race skis are available from more mainstream ski companies Atomic, Dynastar, and Fischer yet oddly enough are not distributed in the U.S. By contrast, the U.S. company Goode has a race model. And I was very tempted by the Hagan X-Race.

But I eventually went with the Movement Fish, which weighs in at an actual 3 pounds 1.6 ounces in 162cm (although actually about 2cm longer than a 164cm Trab Duo Sint Aero). The tip has both a traditional hole along with a skin notch, which is cleverly offset at a significant angle to guard against loss of skin tip hardware.

So how does all this perform? For the ascent, the weight – or rather, lack thereof – is amazing, even compared to very lightweight touring-oriented setups. Taking full advantage of the set-up requires not just a big set of lungs but also some adjustment, since the possible stride length is so enormous, and the maximum cadence is very quick. Plus I keep needlessly starting to reach down upon binding entry to pull up on the toe lever — old habits take awhile to break…

For the descent, this of course is not exactly (or even inexactly) a quiver of one. But on consolidated snow, the setup performs astoundingly well. Deflection of course is always a concern with so little mass behind the various components (7 pounds 11.3 ounces, excluding footbeds and excluding the DyNA rubber I lost on various volcanoes last summer), but then again the lack of mass can help in some conditions and maneuvers too. Once again, some adjustment is necessary, since any kind of pivoting or rotational maneuver usually results in an over-correction, given so little mass is on my feet.

Now stop me before I find a lycra speed suit – oh wait, too late . . .

(WildSnow guest blogger Jonathan Shefftz lives with his wife and daughter in Western Massachusetts.)


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49 Responses to “The Highly Bearable Lightness of Rando Race Ski Gear”

  1. Greg Louie January 10th, 2011 11:31 am

    You path sounds familiar, Jonathan, though I recall paying $99 for my TM:11’s.

    I’m envious, but we need real pictures of the skis and bindings – the Movement renderings are not sufficient!

  2. Mark W January 10th, 2011 11:34 am

    When I think of lycra speed suits, I think of World Cup and Olympic competitions, and, unfortunately, of an episode of Malcolm in the Middle in which Malcolm’s dad takes up highly competitive speed walking! Ha!

  3. Dave C. January 10th, 2011 6:59 pm

    What I find most interesting about this gear is its versatility. My setup is perhaps four pounds heavier than Jonathan’s, but I can happily use it on groomed nordic trails (with wax) as well as steep downhill runs at resorts (and it’s lighter than any tele setup I’ve had, even with 3pins and T3s).

    What makes that possible isn’t so much the light weight as the boots. With the DyNA or TLT5, the cuff feels like it vanishes in walk mode, so there’s less resistance to striding than the lightest tele gear. Switch to ski mode and you have tremendous downhill power.

  4. Lou January 10th, 2011 7:25 pm

    Dave, those boots are very well received here in Europe, and I think they’ll catch on bigtime in the US amongst the more human powered crowd. And new models coming look really good, just saw them today here in Italy.

  5. Jonathan January 10th, 2011 8:57 pm

    With Lou flying east to Europe, and meanwhile me in Lou’s hometurf of Colorado, the cosmic dissonance seems to have caused all my hypertext to disappear.
    I’ll try adding back some of the links, but meanwhile, I’ve inserted two bindings of the race bindings.
    (Pictures of the skis are kind of boring — even looking at them in-person is also kind of boring, as the wonderment is based upon lifting them up…)

  6. Lou January 11th, 2011 1:11 am

    Jonathan, I had some real strange problems publishing that probably due to a funky web connection here in yes, EU, didn’t notice the links were gone when I put it up, or were they? I did save a backup, which I’ll look at this morning. Heck, just looked at it and all the links are stripped! That is really strange but might be my fault, perhaps I copy/pasted the non html view for my backup or the blog software has some code rewriting stuff in it but I thought I had that all turned off (it’s bogus for a power user). Sorry your work got messed up. I hate that. If you could throw a few links back in that would be good. No need for a huge amount of them, as too many hypertext links make the text hard to read. (It’s not a bad technique, for readability, to also supply a list of releated links at the end of an article. ‘best, Lou

  7. aviator January 11th, 2011 3:33 am

    jonathan, we think so much alike, it’s scary

    To get the race binding weight but WITH normal old skool ski mode for safety,
    I chose the merelli r8 (older black model).

    And about the dynafit dna race ski and impressive specs, the amazing specs are in the tradition of GOODE skis to put it mildly.
    the published weight was originally 690g, later adjusted to 710g and real world they hover around 780g. 😯
    the crazy dna have a published 730g and a +4% max variation so maybe they are not identical after all.

    Your fish ski weighing in at 700g real world makes them lighter than anything else except the merellis.
    I think the Lighter Ski Strudel (700g +20g max variation) would be heavier in real life.

    One thing I’ve noticed with 160cm race skis is the difference in stability between 170cm and 160cm is HUUUGE! I mean 100 times bigger than say between 180cm to 170cm. Every cm counts from 160cm and up. I’m 6’1 though.

    I’m getting at least a 166cm merelli raid or the 171cm trab wc. :mrgreen:

  8. Tay January 11th, 2011 3:59 am

    “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” (Antoine de Saint-Exupery).

  9. aviator January 11th, 2011 5:40 am

    there is always more you can take away, and then there is structural failure.
    perfection would be a few grams before that happens?

  10. Jonathan Shhhh January 11th, 2011 10:04 am

    Why not take all the work out of it and just use a snowmobile. Your type just loves to spend money.

  11. Andre Wille January 11th, 2011 7:44 pm

    I recently completed a 5 day hut tour testing out my new (but already old) setup with my F1 race boots, TLT verticals, and dynafit skis. With all the new snow and breaking trail most of the 30 miles, I was glad I left the 160 cm Goode Race skis at home and opted for the longer and wider boards. I was particularly pleased with the F1’s as a touring boot. the bellows makes them very comfortable, and since making turns was not the top priority on this trip, but an added bonus, all was good.
    Rando race gear definately has a valuable niche for extended touring. Lighter is better… Faster can mean safer if it gets you to the hut on schedule. I kept the lycra underneath so no one could see….

  12. Plinko January 11th, 2011 8:59 pm

    Johnathan Shhh says, “Why not take all the work out of it and just use a snowmobile. Your type just loves to spend money.”

    What, and snowmobiles are handed out for free?

    Nice write up J.

  13. Jonathan Shhhh January 11th, 2011 9:03 pm

    Pinko — I’m not sure you “got” it.

  14. Plinko January 11th, 2011 9:58 pm

    Nor you Johnathan :p

    I started off with a similar story, Atomic MX:11 (which I currently have for sale btw), then stepped up to the MX:20, only to find its performance lacking, due partially to the huge 32 meter turn radius. Most recently I picked up a pair of Atomic’s latest entry, the Tour Race. Much refined over the MX:20, and with a stock skin tip slot. They’ve come a long way with specs to rival the other category leaders, and at a relative bargain.

    Bindings have gone through a similar evolution, from TLT Speed/Classics to Vertical Race Ti, then to Schia Meccanica ( ).

    Boots started off as Scarpa Lasers, then Matrix, followed by four generations of F1’s, and most recently, the TLT5P.

    It’s ironic that so many here have taken nearly identical steps in gear acquisition, all without any real domestic source for rando world info.

  15. Lou January 12th, 2011 3:10 am

    Andre, thanks for chiming in! Yeah, this AT race gear that’s been coming up strong for the past few years is really amazing stuff. Am glad you’re enjoying it. Indeed for Colorado it’s critical to pair with a ski that’s functional. The really skinny ones are pretty much for hardpack or dense crud, which are the conditions the racers generally end up in. I remember in my old days of trail breaking madness (it’s a mental illness we sometimes pick up in places like Colorado), I always sought out wider skis even in the nordic widths as the amount of energy they saved was huge.

  16. stephen January 12th, 2011 6:31 am

    Plinko, what can you tell us about the Schia Meccanica bindings??? I’ve looked at their site and pics, but there is little text or specs. It looks about the cheapest light and adjustable tech binding option. Hmmm.

    BTW, are there only two positions for the heel, or does it rotate as well to give a “heel flat on the ski” touring position?

    Thanks for any light you can shed!


    Jonathan S: could you perhaps test the Random X as well as the Fish X and Logic X, and give us a nice comparison of the relative strengths and weaknesses of all three? Thank you. 🙂

  17. Wick January 12th, 2011 12:43 pm

    Jonathon – another great report…one correction…I own the Ski Trab Attacco Race bindings, have been racing on them for a month and they do indeed have the ability to accept ski cramps….

  18. Jonathan Shefftz January 12th, 2011 12:51 pm

    I reinserted some (and hopefully not too many) of the links.
    Re structural failure, Jared’s blog has some wild pics of broken rando race gear. Personally, at only 145 lbs, I like a sport designed around lightweight 160-ish length skis! But sure sounds like Merelli is pushing the limits of acceptable durability. This fall I emailed a sponsored Euro seller about his new Merelli skis for sale, and he admitted the reason for selling was their anticipated lifespan (or lack thereof).
    A reliable source (former Trab ski rep) speaks highly on the Schia bindings, but they don’t seem to be interested in selling to the U.S.
    Based on Alex’s blog and my discussions with Plum, apparently most rando racers typically just flip the cover forward and skin up on the heel elevator all the time, as opposed to rotating the binding 90 degrees. This makes for slick transitions, but sure seems to intefere with my stride length on flatter skintracks.
    Perhaps a year from now (when my Duo Sint Aero have more than the 100 days current on them) I’ll have a review of Movement Random skis plus extra Dynafit Speed toes + Plum 135 race heels!
    Also, for anyone interested in a NE Rando Race Series, just search that phrase in Facebook for details on our first event coming up on MLK Day.

  19. aviator January 12th, 2011 2:57 pm

    It’s more a height thing than a weight thing isn’t it? This type of ski is always gonna be too short and skinny for almost anybodys weight? but how much “over the handlebars” is acceptable? it’s more related to your height?

    And yea, all this race gear is really pushing it durability wise.
    I read the Merelli stories too, my impression is they are a lot better now than in the beginning, just as with Goode skis. 100% carbon skis are really tricky to lay up properly, it seems manufacturing tolerances are TINY, hence the prices.
    If they are just a little bit off they will break at nothing almost. Durability varies like crazy from pair to pair.
    Also the abuse race skis take in the wc is insane.
    They break any brand, be it trabs or dynastar, like twigs.

    Seems to me it’s really a gamble buying NEW carbon skis? You never know if you’ll get that weak pair? If you can find a beat up well used pair that survived chances are it’s gonna be some of the really good and strong ones?
    It was my strategy buying Goode skis and I think I’ll try it with the Merellis too.

  20. Christian January 12th, 2011 3:26 pm

    You could buy the AlpControl carbon skis – get great reviews, and seem very robust. Nice warranty as well….but maybe not racy enough?

  21. aviator January 12th, 2011 3:54 pm

    AlpControl lightest ski is 900g?
    That’s 30% heavier than the 700g (or 680g) ski I’m looking for.

    And every ski and ski maker make sure to get some great reviews. It’s just basic promo.
    I don’t think there are any magic tricks here.
    There will be no ski maker popping out of nowhere doing amazing stuff others haven’t tried (without catastrophic results).
    The lightest skis in the world are made by Goode and Merelli because they are 100% carbon and because they have pushed the limits further than the others.
    It has taken them several years to get it somewhat sorted by now.
    And many people will never trust their product because of the first difficult years.

    And the way I’m thinking they are years and years ahead of the competition with their experience?

  22. Plinko January 12th, 2011 5:10 pm

    Stephen, the Schia Meccanica bindings are nicely finished and a quality product. It’s made by engenieers and machinists who seem to really care about their work. Fit and finish are top shelf. I can’t comment on the adjustable plate, only the standard heel. It’s similar to others out there, but as you mentioned, one of the most affordable brands.

    Heel has 3 position)s total:
    1. lifter down, (covering the pins and preventing them from engaging the boot heel).
    2. lifter up, boot engaged in ski mode
    3. heelpiece/turret rotated 90 degrees to provide “flat on ski” position. There’s a mod out there (courtesy of Jared / SLC Samurai ) to give you a higher heel lift position using aluminum angle bracket and 2 screws. Photo here:

    This then gives you a fourth (steep climbing) position with very little weight added. The referenced link uses Dynafit Low Tech’s, but it works similarly on the Schia heelpiece.

  23. Jonathan January 12th, 2011 6:40 pm

    Wick, thanks for the correction. Do you have a link that shows the attachment point? (I was told earlier that crampons were not an option, and the pictures I’ve seen show no attachment point, but of course that would be easy for Trab to have modified.)
    Re height vs weight, certainly for nordic ski sizing, weight is all that matters (though I did see a detailed explanation once of how height can play a small role), and the same is true for alpine downhill and regular alpine touring skis, although I suppose when we’re getting into 160cm rando race skis that are generally undersized for a heavy skier, additional weight could exacerbate the problems if the platform is already just way too short.
    Interesting theory about buying used – would depend on whether the underlying durability problem is manufacturing variance vs cumulative abuse.

  24. stephen January 13th, 2011 12:11 am

    Thanks Plinko! Very useful – just what I needed to know. Now I just have to start saving my pennies for this Southern winter, but it will be a lot quicker than with the Plum 185 at 800+ Euros… 😀

  25. Jonathan Shefftz January 17th, 2011 4:15 pm

    Unfortunately the hoped-for challenging descent route for this morning’s race ran out of snow yesterday, so we had to divert to the back-up plan of a groomer — steep, but still groomed, so not a real test of the new setup. However, I did get in two laps on it Friday after putting in the skintrack (thanks again Josh F. for helping with the trailbreaking!): a bit narrow, solid pitch, with a mix of cut-up powder, firm moguls, rocks, old chair tower base concrete, and various detritus from the chairlift riders overhead. With the Movement Fish skis and Dynafit DyNA boots, connected with the solid Plum 135 bindings, I was able to ski this terrain much faster than I ever would on “real” backcountry gear at a normal backcountry pace. (Although my long nordic ski poles combined with the lycra suit definitely provided the chairlift riders with much entertainment!) And of course skinning up with so little mass on each leg is just such a hoot. I’ll definitely be using this setup for some springtime outings.

  26. Jonathan Shefftz January 28th, 2011 10:01 am

    I just read elsewhere a really convoluted report on mounting a Plum race binding.
    So that nobody else follows such a tortuous path, here’s how quick & easy the entire process was (elaborating on my brief summary in the original blog post):

    1. Mount toe unit as usual with Dynafit mechanical jig.
    2. Insert boot in mounted toe unit.
    3. Printed official Plum template pdf on transparency material and punch out the centers of all four holes.
    4. Align the template with the boot heel, tape down the template onto the ski, and use sharpie to make marks on ski in the centers of all four holes.
    5. Drill holes using Look/Rossi turntable jig (using front two heel holes), which replicate the Left-Right spacing.

  27. Lou January 28th, 2011 10:19 am

    Key with most of this type of mounting is to do toe first. I’d suggest doing it dry without cranking down the screws super tight, then backing screws out and adding epoxy when all is done. That way you’re not racing epoxy cure time as one does have to take their time with such mounts.

  28. Simon January 28th, 2011 11:31 am

    On the subject of merelli skis, I have to say you do not see too many people racing on them in France who have purchased them themselves. Almost all people on them have some kind of deal or are directly sponsored. 4 guys I know were in France last year for the worlds and the Pierre Menta, 3 of them got Merellis through a deal, all were on Trabs before they started the worlds all due to broken skis, one lasted less than 2 hrs during the first outing in the first race. Not to pick solely on merelli, a lot of carbon products, boots, poles etc are seen broken at the finish of most races so it’s a case of you pay your money you take your chances. The down side for the average guy is they cannot call up their sponsor and have a new piece of kit delivered free by return post. Looking at the other materials out there, you do not see broken F1’s or DYNA’s very often or lightweight wood cored skis.

  29. Jonathan January 28th, 2011 2:29 pm

    Re mounting, doing the first is essentially mandatory — even if a jig matched up with the heel pattern, the toe would somehow have to line up with the sockets, not the lug (given how even very small offset variations are so important with a non-adjustable heel).
    Here’s the Plum template file:

    Re Merelli, that doesn’t sound too very confidence-inspiring! The PG boots also seem to break often, but everyone still lines up for a (very pricey) pair.

  30. Lou January 28th, 2011 2:52 pm

    Progress report: Just got the correct size (28) TLT5 Performance, they end up the same sole length as my punched out size 27 ZZeros. Very cool. It’s like they’re pre-customized! Nice and short. Fitting will now commence. Wish I could take them out this weekend, but they’re not quite there and I’ve only got a few hours before we leave for overnight…

  31. Jonathan Shefftz February 6th, 2011 9:09 pm

    Update on the Plum toe lever auto-lock and release capabilities:
    – So the toe lever definitely has two positions when up. My picture in the original review unintentionally shows what is essentially a sort of ski mode and smooth touring mode.
    – Because of some combination of my particular boot toe shape and the toe pincer width I set, the binding automatically goes into this position. I got in almost 12,000′ vertical skinning in this position with no problems, including some tricky sidehilling. And with the heel pins engaged for skiing, I can still twist out just fine. The perfect combination!
    – But today’s rando race featured a tricky ascent through some steep moguls, so I decided beforehand that I would definitely pull up on the lever manually all the way (which is truly LOCKED) once I went into heel elevator mode after the initial flats.
    – Unfortunately, the combination of a whole lot of loose snow on my boot toe and the not totally locked-out toe led one to release right away at the start (although then again maybe I was never really into the binding in the first place?), which followed by some embarrassed fiddling led to a delay that felt like about 25 minutes . . . yet the Facebook video reveals was only about 25 seconds.
    – I might play around with the toe pincer gap to see if I can achieve full lock upon entry, but either way, I really like the combination of release and retention characteristics so far. (Plus the Movement Fish-X skis perform great, and the entire package is so light that it more than compensated for blowing past the boot track then standing around dazed and confused for awhile.)

  32. Simon February 7th, 2011 1:07 am

    Hi Jonathan, I have been following your articles on this kit with great interest as I am now skiing the x-Fish with the Plum 145 for the 2nd season (i managed to get one of the first 09/10 pre official release skis). I talked with the Plum technicians this weekend at the end of the TSF Millet in the Haute Savoie as I was interested to know what the solution was to be for the potential none auto-locking toe lever. He had an example at the race. The aluminium plate that sits under the lever to prevent wear to the top sheet has been constructed with a very small ridge in the middle. When the foot is engaged into the binding the lever stops at the ridge, in the exact same position as shown in your picture and you then just have to pull the lever fully back to overcome the ridge and engage the locked mode. As you would expect this plate is very minimal and he said the cost would be tiny. The guy from Plum also said that the requirement for this modification would not come in for next season as most manufacturers have would not have enough time to implement this measure (This was his thoughts though and not the official line)

    On the subject of the last post you made, I too find myself occasionally moving off with the toe lever in this ‘no mans land’ position and it usually holds up OK, the only danger being is you do not realise this is the case and if you tumble on a descent it could be, goodbye ski and a long walk down. I also find that any time the boot will not engage or unexpectedly releases is almost always due to the build up of ice in the boot pin holes after a boot pack, something that is a problem of the boot and not the binding. This is easly prevented by a liberal spray of boots and bindings with a teflon or silicone type lubricant. I use an all weather teflon chain spray, but care is needed to ensure it does not come into contact with the ski base. I do not know if this lubricant will have any adverse effects on the plastics of the boot, maybe Lou would know more on this.

  33. Jonathan Shefftz February 7th, 2011 8:39 am

    Simon, thanks for the helpful info. Sounds like a simple yet elegant solution from Plum.
    I strongly suspect that my problem at the start was indeed a result of lots (and lots!) of loose snow. (Jerimy even noted after the race that so much loose snow had gotten inside his boots and melted that his foot was now sloshing around inside his water-logged boot!) Before each race and sometimes before a big powder tour, I inject bike grease into the toe sockets and spray both the boot sole and the ski topskin with silicon (being careful to avoide the ski bases). I’ve done this for years without any adverse effects on the materials, and it seems to help, although wasn’t quite enough for yesterday.

  34. Jonathan Shefftz February 14th, 2011 2:58 pm

    Used the setup for the Thunderbolt “down mountain” race this past Saturday, since the ascent was also timed (although transition times were at your leisure), with a “King of the Mountain” award for fastest combined time.
    Made me realize how perfect the heel lifter height is for perfect skin track angles, which comprised about 2.5 miles of the total 3.0 mile ascent (for 2200′ vertical). The first couple minutes were almost entirely flat, so going with no heel elevator was perfect there too for some true glide. On the flatter sections toward the summit area (which also had a much worse skintrack for hammering unfortunately), I went back & forth a couple times with the elevator, and I’m still not sure what’s faster in such sections.

  35. Jonathan Shefftz February 21st, 2011 8:04 am

    Been a rough few weeks for North Americans’ rando race gear:
    – Jan 14 = SLC Samurai Jared breaks his PG boot lever at Sunlight
    – Jan 31 = SLC Sherpa Andy breaks his [discontinued model] Dynafit race binding toe (pivot point for one of the wings)
    – Feb 15 = SLC Sherpa Andy breaks his Trab race binding toe pincer (lack of heat forging, with nearly two-month warranty turnaround time to Italy)
    – Feb 20 = Chris Kroger’s Merelli toe prereleases about 16x, causing a decision for the two-skier team to DNF at the first descent
    – Feb 20 = Alex Wigley’s gear is smashed at the start by another competitor, suffering numerous prereleases until a ten-minute jerryrigging session allows his team to at least finish.
    – Feb 20(?) = Jari Kirkland’s Scarpa F1 carbon fails at the upper cuff rivet, though somehow her team still finished 11th!

  36. Jonathan Shefftz April 14th, 2011 8:45 am

    Finally used the Fish-X skis + Plum race bindings for a backcountry tour (albeit with TLT5 boots instead of DyNA, as the midsole rubber comes in handy for off-trail boulder hopping). Over the course of nearly 9k’ vert and 13mi, conditions ranged across mank (blessedly brief), perfect corn, fresh powder (just a couple inches though), annoyingly still frozen snow, and mildly terrifying totally frozen very steep snow. (Detailed tour description here for your easterners, although westerners and Europeans will find it pretty standard stuff.)
    Setup performed really well across all of that, with only two drawbacks:
    – Obviously real mank requires more waist width.
    – For optimal skintracks and slightly steeper, the heel elevator is sufficient, but for really steep skinning where choosing your own switchback angle is not an option (e.g., up a hiking trail early on, and then through a gap in some tight trees toward the end), more heel elevator would have helped.

  37. Jonathan Shefftz September 21st, 2011 9:14 am

    Cool little Dynafit mini-site that highlights their race-specific gear:

  38. tOM September 27th, 2011 7:27 pm

    Can either Lou or anyone else verify that the new “radical speed” binding indeed has the same longer pins as the previous st/ft binders? While we’re at it last years’ speed still had the shorter heel pins, yes?

    Thanks in advance, tOM

  39. Lou September 27th, 2011 7:56 pm

    Tom, yes.

    If I’m wrong, I’ll eat some binding grease.

    And if I’m wrong, return ’em as Dynafit told me they have the same length pins as the ST/FT

  40. Jonathan Shefftz September 27th, 2011 7:59 pm

    Seems like the new Speed Radical is essentially a dedicated-brakeless (and shimless) Radical ST, whereas the original Speed differed in a few more ways from the Vertical ST.

  41. Tyler B October 20th, 2011 1:42 pm

    What is your opinion of the Atomic MX20? I am considering them for my Citizen Race setup for the winter. They are much cheaper than say a pair of the performance race ski. Thoughts? Go a different direction?

  42. Jonathan Shefftz October 20th, 2011 2:01 pm

    I still have a pair of MX:20! (Supposedly a friend has been planning since *last* fall to buy them along with some new 60mm BD mohair/mix skins, but still somewhat unclear, argh….)
    Actual weight is 3lb 11.2 oz, which is just an ounce over the upper end of the spec for the Dynafit’s #2 race ski (“Race Performance”) and a little lighter than Trab’s #2 (Duo Race Aero, w/o the WC appendage).
    Lots of camber — make of that what you will. (Far more than any other alpine ski I own.)
    Comes with a tip hole instead of a slot for skins, but was super easy to make that hole into a slot. (Even looks more professional than the slot that came on my Fish-X!) I sealed it up with varnish, although that was probably unnecessary.
    Comparable waist width to current top-of-the-line race skis, but narrower tip & tail. (For some odd reason, the topskin on my pair — and a friend’s pair — incorrectly lists the curvier dimensions for the MX:11.) Still skied good enough though for races. And has held up very well.
    For the budget racer, definitely an excellent choice!

  43. Tyler B October 20th, 2011 2:22 pm

    Thanks for the quick response and feedback. Out of curiousity…do you want to sell yours?

  44. Jonathan Shefftz December 8th, 2011 4:28 pm

    @Tyler B, I just noticed a brand new pair of MX20 for sale (in the same town that has the local ski area I usually run up & down on my rando race gear:

  45. Jonathan Shefftz February 1st, 2012 4:01 pm

    Ski repair q: a rando buddy’s race ski broke, but I’m not ready to give up yet…especially since I spent hours carefully plugging the old heel holes and remounting for his bsl. (Not a Movement ski, and brand is kind of immaterial since I think it’s really a Crazy Idea ski with graphics from the bigger company.) Unlike other rando race ski breakages I’ve seen on the internet, this is *not* behind the heel, and isn’t catastrophic . . . yet. The edge is just barely bent. The topskin is cracked, and on this particular model the “topskin” is actually a structural element, all cf, just painted over with the “topskin” graphics. I was thinking 1) inject lots of two-part epoxy into the cracked area(s), then clamp for a couple days 2) get some sort of fiberglass sheets (from . . .where?) and epoxy to the top of the “topskin” to form a kind of splint 3) desperately try to think of something else to do too 4) have him use it only on race days, and only for courses without many moguls (he’s even lighter than I am, so I’m thinking he can get away with it). I know this might be nearly hopeless, but although he got it nearly new for a great price, the official full retail is $1400, so worth a try!

  46. Greg Louie February 1st, 2012 11:24 pm

    . . . I fixed my shower with fiberglass fabric and 2-part resin from Home Depot and it worked great.

  47. Scott Allen March 1st, 2012 3:48 pm

    I wish to upgrade to lighter rando race skis for REC division. I am currently racing on Black Diamond Arc Ascents at 175cm..which perform great in all conditions but deep deep powder.
    I like the price and weight of Dynafit Race Performance…..but only available in 161cm.
    I am 6’2″ 185lbs and am concerned that downhill performance might be squirely.

  48. aviator March 1st, 2012 4:44 pm


    ski trab wc race aero 171cm
    merelli raid 166cm

    they are a lot less over the handle bars than any 160cm race ski.
    in this range 160-171cm every single cm counts.

  49. Plinko March 1st, 2012 11:12 pm

    @ Scott

    Squirly is the name of the game in rando racing!

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