What is the DIN system for alpine skiing? If you are a novice in the world of snow sports, you've probably heard this term, but wondered what it meant. As your ski skills improve, a clear understanding of DIN settings will be crucial to your on-slope safety and performance.
The word DIN applies to the release settings on your ski bindings. Back in the early days of skiing, ski bindings did not have a release system. As such, broken legs were quiet common. It wasn't until the late 1930s that skiers began to think about releasable bindings.
A Brief History of Releasable Ski Bindings
In 1935, a Norwegian ski racer named Hjalmar Hvam opened a ski shop in Portland, Oregon. Every day, he would hear about the dozens of injuries that were suffered by his customers. As a trained mechanical draftsman, he used his skills to experiment with toe irons, in search of a reliable way to release a ski boot in a fall. Hvam was faced with a formidable challenge. How could he create a binding system that would keep the boot in place during simple moves, but release during complex falls?
His inspiration came while under the influence of an anesthetic, After doing some cornice jumping on Mount Hood, Hvam suffered a spiral fracture. While awaiting surgery at Saint Vincent's Hospital in Portland, he had a vision. Hvam imagined a pivoting clip attached into the boot sole. There would be an internal mechanism that would hold the clip in a centered position, as long as the skier's toe was pressed upward against the clip. However, if that pressure was removed, the clip would swing sideways, thus providing for sideways toe release in a forward-leaning, twisting fall.
In the next 60 years, ski manufacturers and engineers from the US, France, Germany and Austria would create their own versions of the releasable ski binding. Over time, they realized that binding's ability to release at the right time was just as important as its ability to keep the skis attached to the boots. Thus, as the bindings became more sophisticated, manufacturers began to incorporate a scientific system for determining what circumstances would cause their release. It was called the DIN system for alpine skiing.
What is the DIN System for Alpine Skiing?
The word "DIN" stands for Deutsche Industrie Normen. This standard is used internationally, to ensure that ski bindings throughout the world will release under the exact same forces. Adjustments to DIN settings can either compress or decompress a spring in the binding of the ski. The compression indicates the amount of force that is needed to release the bindings from a ski boot. Higher settings require more force for release. For example, a skier who frequently skis in powder may want a higher DIN setting, because skis that are released in deep powder are hard to find. Additionally, if you've ever had to snap into a binding in deep powder, you know that this is a difficult task. Lower settings require less force for release. These settings are often recommended for novice skiers, who are less skilled in the art of falling. For example, suppose a skier falls backward in a twisting motion. If the ski binding does not release, an ACL tear or other type of serious injury can occur.
How to Determine DIN Setting
DIN settings are determined by your height, weight, boot sole length, age and skier type. Skier type is the most important of a of these factors. A Type I skier is new to the sport, and skis in a conservative manner. Type II skiers ski at a moderate pace on intermediate terrain. Type III skiers ski at a fast pace on an advanced terrain. Gear shops will also tell you that when you reach age 50, you will need to lower your DIN settings. Being honest about age and ability is crucial for your safety.