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With Snow across 49 States, Voluntary Standards Take to the Slopes

With snow covering the ground somewhere in nearly every state, people across the nation are trading in slick streets and sidewalks for slippery slopes. From bunny hills to black diamonds, standards are in place to help skiers of all levels have fun and stay safe.

Given its twists and turns down snow-covered mountains, alpine skiing necessitates both skill and safety. Ensuring that boots, skis, poles, and bindings are ready for optimal performance gives skiers a leg up on the slopes. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed a number of safety standards and test methods for alpine skiing equipment, ranging from boots and binding screws to the skis themselves. Two standards developed by ISO Technical Committee (TC) 83 Subcommittee (SC) 3, Ski bindings, help to ensure the proper function of ski/binding/boot systems.

ISO 11088, Assembly, adjustment and inspection of an alpine ski/binding/boot (S-B-B) system, specifies the assembly, adjustment, and inspection for the binding mechanisms of skis. The standard is intended for all individuals and institutions concerned with those procedures, especially sports retailers.

Bindings attach the boot to the ski, but allow the boot to release to reduce injury in case of a fall. ISO 5355, Alpine Ski Boots — Requirements and Test Methods, is designed to test the safety of ski-binding systems. The standard outlines requirements and test methods for ski boots with alpine ski-binding systems attached at the toe and heel, and defines the proper release function of binding systems depending on the dimensions and design of a system's interfaces.

For those who prefer to rent ski equipment rather than invest in their own, the condition and proper operation of ski-binding-boot systems is just as important. ASTM F1064-07, Standard Practice for Sampling and Inspection of Complete and Incomplete Alpine Ski/Binding/Boot Systems in Rental Applications, establishes a uniform method for sampling and inspecting alpine ski/binding/boot systems used in rental operations. The practice can be used in rental applications in which all or part of the system components are supplied by the rental facility. The standard was developed by ASTM International, a member and audited designator of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, develops standards to ensure that skiing and other winter sports are accessible to all. ANSI/RESNA ASE-1-2007, Adaptive Sports Equipment, Volume 1: Winter Sports Equipment, outlines requirements and test methods for adaptive winter sports equipment including sit-skis, mono-skis, and bi-skis. Assistive technology standards developed by RESNA's Standards Committee on Adaptive Sports Equipment (ASE) apply to users and organizations representing the technical needs of persons with mobility impairments, including adaptive sports equipment suppliers, adaptive ski programs, and manufacturers of adaptive sports equipment.

If looking out your window presents snowy scapes, consider taking to the slopes and making the most of the winter wonderland. The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, has issued a Skier Responsibility Code reminding everyone that there are elements of risk in skiing that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce. And with the help of standards, that "just one last" run down the mountainside can be more peaceful than perilous.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


[email protected]