Watch the video and read the below for the backstory of how Salomon freeski athletes and product designers collaborated to develop the S/LAB Shift binding over nearly a decade. (Click the CC box in the YouTube player for subtitles.)
When Salomon’s team of freeski athletes first sat down with product developers nearly a decade ago to speak about creating what would become the S/LAB Shift binding, it was clear that completing the project would be a monumental task. The collective goal was to create something that had never been seen before in order to meet the evolving needs of Salomon’s freeski athletes as they pushed the sport in new directions. According to ski-touring superman Greg Hill, the team wanted a binding that toured like a “pin” binding, but that skied with the responsiveness and safety of a more traditional alpine binding.
The early days of development were frustrating, but fruitful. Salomon’s binding R&D team built prototypes, which the athletes then tested rigorously and often handed back broken…because when you give a prototype ski binding to skiers like Chris Rubens, Cody Townsend, Tony Lamiche, Stan Rey, Alexi Godbout, Fabien Maierhofer and Greg Hill, they don’t take it easy. Failures only strengthened the resolve of the design team, who would build new prototypes to be tested repeatedly under the most extreme conditions. And on and on the process went.
Only in the last several years did the S/LAB Shift begin to look like the product it is today. The result is the first ever, truly compromise-free solution for skiers looking to blend the freedom and touring efficiency of a pin binding with the power and transmission of a Salomon alpine binding. With MultiNorm Certification (MNC), Shift is the only hybrid binding that is compatible with all norm boots on the market (from traditional alpine boots to touring boots). The Shift is also TUV-certified, delivering the safety a skier needs regardless of the type of ski boot he/she uses.
Watch the video below for a detailed look at Salomon’s rich history of developing ski bindings, which began decades ago, and see how the Shift incorporates what we learned from years of research.
HOW THE S/LAB SHIFT BINDING WORKS
An adjustable pedal toe allows the Shift to be compatible with all norm boots on the market. Based on the boot you’re using (alpine or touring model), you can adapt the binding to suit your boot via an easy-to-use screw. Then the real innovation begins. By creating an alpine toe piece that integrates pins, the company created the first hybrid binding that delivers ultimate versatility. On the uphill, the pin enables the skier to move efficiently and conveniently by placing the rotation point close to the metatarsal area of the foot, offering a 90-degree range of motion. In addition, a variety of simple manipulations can be used to adapt to terrain changes as the skier tours up hill.
For the downhill, the binding can be switched in seconds from touring mode to ski mode. A lever in the toe allows the toe piece to transform from a touring setup to alpine. By lifting the lever up into ski mode, the wings close into a traditional alpine binding shape, allowing the skier to step into the binding the same way he/she would to a traditional alpine binding. And with the same confident feeling. The Shift delivers pure freeride performance with regard to power transmission and safety due to the elasticity in the wings that absorbs shock.