Salomon offers a huge spectrum of binding choices, each targeting individual skier types. What's more, the French company is paying particular attention to women and asked specifically that a female tester be included in our Stowe test. Women, as well as mogul skiers, appreciate added ramp, the company believes. Ideally, Salomon would have you match its bindings to its skis, but Salomons work well on other skis, too.
Salomon focused its 1998-99 research on "carving interfaces," meant to direct a skier's pressure to an optimal point along the ski's length. Their "passive systems" include plates, which tend to make the binding-ski combination more specific. Their inexpensive new Axe Plus plate (see sidebar on page 149) is most impressive. "Active interfaces," such as the Propulse and Sphericpulse, add pressure boosts and are designed to make skis more versatile.
S 900 Carbon $265
A carry-over from last year's line, the Propulse binding is well suited to the Player and Aspiring Carver. It provides that comfortable and secure Salomon feel and is attractively priced. For our test, Salomon used this as a reference binding.
S 900 Equipe ProPulse $395
This new, improved ProPulse is for Racers and All-Mountain Experts. The active lifter plate, supported by two power lever arms, captures the skier's energy and transforms it into turning power at the tip and tail. Between turns, when energy is released during the edge change, the ProPulse propels you into the new turn.
This system adds caffeine to every direction change¿without being overpowering. With close to 10 mm of added lift, there's extra leverage, so the tail feels like an afterburner. Properly set, the ProPulse is a true bionic enhancement, worth the investment for those trying to beat the clock or fatigue.
S 900 Carbon with Ramp Plus $295
This setup includes a wedge-like plate that provides 6 mm of heel lift. Salomon presents this as a women's benefit primarily, but mid- to high-level skiers of both genders, including Aspiring Carvers, Player, All-Mountain Cruisers, Freeriders and All-Mountain Experts who specialize in bumps, will appreciate how easily a ski initiates turns with Ramp Plus. It also makes it easier to pressure the tail.
Most skiers will stand comfortably on this binding (or on Salomon's Drive Ramp Plus, with only 4 mm of heel lift), feeling that it places them in a strong, relaxed and efficient stance. But it's not an automatic elixir. Some will feel awkward, as though walking downhill in high heels. Try it before you buy.
SP 850 Spheric Pulse $320
This is a new lighter-weight, single-armed version of the ProPulse, directed at Aspiring Carvers and Players. Women looking to be more dynamic and feel better edge grip will be enthused by the Spheric Pulse. It inspires confidence in all kinds of snow and terrain.
Our female tester felt an exciting energy surge at the belly of each turn, and she praised the way the Spheric Pulse prevented the ski from bogging down at the turn's end. Energy "built to a crescendo," she said, then could be released in lots of different directions. You don't need lots of speed to make it work, but the amount of energy you get back is determined by how much you put in. That said, keep in mind this is not a ladies-only binding!