President of Composite Developments and Product Design Consultant, Line Skis
Dave Dodge has always loved speed. Growing up in St. Johnsbury, Vt., he was an avid ski racer; as a young man, he raced cars. In a career that has stretched from an engineering degree at the University of Vermont to stints in R&D at Rossignol, Burton and now Line Skis, Dodge has amassed more than 200 patents, most of them for helping people go fast on snow.
But as Dodge knows from painful experience, with speed comes risk. At 49, he's blown out his ACL twice. The more recent accident, four years ago, ended his career in masters ski racing. But it was not, he insists, the inspiration for his latest brainstorm, Line's upcoming Reactor 12 binding. "I was on a snowboard when I did it," he says sheepishly.
Dodge's new binding will offer what he calls "pivogy," for pivot technology. The idea is to employ not one but two pivot points, one in front of the center of the boot and one behind it. That way, he explains, "you increase the sensitivity to a load that comes into the tail of the ski (one of the leading causes of ACL injuries)."
Aiming at first to design nothing more than a movable binding plate, Dodge envisioned a system of opposing plungers and springs, which excited him because it opened up four distinct cam surfaces. "Conceivably," says Dodge, "I could program each of them to release differently, depending on which direction the load comes from." For now, he's been content to chase the benefit gained simply by adding a second pivot. (Simulations at the Center Hospital of Montreal place the reduction in impact load at anywhere from 50 to 300 percent.) And while pivogy is coming along too late to save Dodge's own on-snow career, it ought to do wonders for his 13-year-old son, David, now racing for the Mt. Mansfield Ski Club.