Here presented are photos and testimony of a total binding failure while skiing the Dynafit FT binding. I am 6’2”, 185lbs on Factor Boots and Megawatt skis 2008 model (white). The bindings that failed were FT 92mm binding (re-fitted with 110mm breaks), Din 12 and purchased in France on March 2010. The bindings were mounted with a jig by a Dynafit certified technician on a new pair of skis.
The bindings had roughly 30 days of use before failure occurred. The heels were set at 12, a turn left from maximum. The toes were locked. I had experienced a toe pre-release one and two days prior in totally different situations - one just after the first turn off the lift and the second on a high speed ride through a low-angle field of broken-crud studded with hard snow chunks. I felt right away that both of these pre-releases were strange, as I have been skiing Dynafits for ten years with no previous problems in similar conditions. I checked the toes for cracks and verified that there was no ice under the boot or in the toe piece among possible causes.
It is my guess that the toe piece plate was already cracked and weakened, but not completely sheared yet, as seen in photo. But I did not know this at the time as the crack must have been hidden from view. On the third day, during a traverse on soft snow at medium to high speed, the binding suddenly released at the toe for no reason and the ski shot out from under me. I made a controlled fall and discovered the toe piece had failed. I was lucky not to have hit a tree or rock. If the failure had happened earlier in the run, there is a good chance I would not be alive to tell this story.
Cause of failure appears to be from two different reasons:
1- The newly designed torsion-bridge under the FT Toe Piece creates a “lever effect” which I believed caused the failure by adding additional stress just under the screws, as seen in the photo. The ST and TLT models for example do not have the torsion-bridge and their toe plates are a lot wider and thus give a wider distribution of force around the toe piece screws.
2- The exposed metal of the broken toe piece exposes white looking spots in the metal itself which begs the question as to Dynafit’s quality control and quality of the metal itself.
Conclusion: The FT series torsion-bridge causes additional torsion to the toe plate screws which can result in unpredictable pre-releases and/or complete failure in the form of shearing of the metal toe plate around the screws. Serious injury or Death can result from such an unpredictable failure. There is no doubt that the new torsion-bridge can not handle mixed/hard conditions under higher speeds when skied with a combination of a 4 buckle Freeride type-boot (e.g.Factor) and fat skis 110mm underfoot or greater (125mm under foot in my case).
Thus, the FT is simply overwhelmed at the toe piece because of the poorly designed FT torsion-bridge.
Dynafit, in their description of the FT on their website states:
The patented mechanical four-point link between binding and boot, along with the intricate torsion-bridge between toe and heel, provides a previously unknown degree of force distribution to the ski.
Ironically, it is my belief that the torsion-bridge actually creates additional weakness to the toe piece by increasing torsion directly under and around the toe-plate screws, especially when used with fat skis. Also, it may be possible that there was a quality issue with the metal used. However, upon receipt of the broken binding, Dynafit never requested a serial # for the binding which leads me to believe that they were not concerned about faulty metal/poor quality control. However, it is possible as well that the metal used in the toe-piece is of inferior quality and this is also what added to the failure, or was possibly the principle cause. This would require a detailed study, which Dynafit has not undertaken to my knowledge.
Incidentally, last winter here at the same ski area, another Dynafit FT failed exactly at the same place in the toe piece through sheering; the skier was of similar build, with a similar fat ski/stiff boot combo.
After 10 years of skiing 500 plus days on Dynafits I have never experienced any serious problems of this nature. I have not only skied many rare steep descents with Dynafits, but I have convinced many friends to trust their lives with the Dynafit binding system. Now, I have serious and well-founded doubts that the Dynafit binding system, FT 12 or others, can safely handle the additional torsion and power created by the modern Freeride Boot/Fat Ski combo when skied aggressively in mixed conditions and terrain.
I warn all Dynafit users to seriously consider the consequences of a failure as described and documented here. I will continue to use my Dynafits (without the torsion-bridge of course!) but I refuse to use FT’s or other Dynafit models for lift-accessed freeriding involving high speeds and high torsional forces in mixed snow conditions. Please spread the word about this failure of the FT, and the risk it poses.
I believe Dynafit has known about this problem since 2010 and that they have kept such failures quiet as they hurriedly designed a new toe piece/ torsion-bridge to prevent future failures as I have described here. It will be interesting to know if anyone else has experienced similar failure with FT torsion-bridges.
Hopefully Dynafit will both warn its customers of potential and sudden failure of it’s FT Binding series, as well as make the needed improvements to avoid any future failures. If not, I sadly predict serious injuries/fatalities in the near future among Dynafit users, especially those with FT torsion-bridges.
La Meije, France
January 21st, 2011
Response from Dynafit France:
We would like to clear up some points:
The Dynafit FT12 is a touring ski binding, not a freeride binding, the DIN 12 setting is aimed at skiers who arrive quickly reach 100kg weight when touring with backpacks and equipment.
It is designed to be fitted with skis that have reinforcement plates to avoid tearing the binding from the top sheet of the ski. In addition, we advise that you do not to lock the toe lever, first for safety but also for mechanical reasons.
In the locked position ski boots will not release, so this adds additional pressure on the top sheet. If ski is too large, the constraints are then multiplied and mechanically something has to give, either the top sheet or locking lever.
It is true that the FT 12 has a narrower base compared to the Vertical ST which is why DYNAFIT has developed an additional plate called the “power plate” which better distributes the load on the ski. It has been available for a month in stores or can be ordered.
We are aware that practices evolve and skis are getting ever wider, so we have enlarged the bases on all models for next season, with the exception of competition bindings.
To summarize, you should not lock the lever down, and for all skiers who have skis over 95mm, there is a plate that distributes the load on the front end and it is available in stores or on order.
Dynafit has a long term relationship with skiers, we thank you for your trust and are at your disposal if you have any feedback or comments about our produc
Posted by on Saturday, 22 January, 2011 at 01:15 PM
That is nasty, it smacks a bit of the Salomon Quest incident, at least in terms of consequences. With people skiing very wide skis with Dynafits there are obviously some very high forces involved especially when you couple those skis with powerful freeride skiers moving at speed in mixed snow conditions.
It is obviously different from this failure experienced by Guillaume Pellissier ski touring which is maybe a material fault.
Be interesting to see if Dynafit come back with some comments. Obviously a 125mm waist ski is pushing the limits of what is essentially a ski mountaineering binding.
Posted by davidof
on Sunday, 23 January, 2011 at 03:54 PM
ps. is the torsion bridge the bit of plastic “carbon-fibre” look nonsense under the binding? One of the Dynafit guys told me it had no effect and was just to position the binding in the “freeride” market. I suspect the holes create stress points and the 2mm of surrounding metal is not sufficient. Bit like when you break a chocolat nut bar in two, it always breaks along a line of nuts.
Posted by davidof
on Sunday, 23 January, 2011 at 03:59 PM
you can see better on this picture from skitour
the toe piece overhangs the plastic base plate and this, according to Colin, causes stress around the outer screw fittings. You don’t get this on the ST and the “non freeride” TLT actually has a wider base. There are other reports of failure at this point so this is not an isolated case and, if Colin’s theory is correct, is similar to the Salomon Quest debacle. Of course we can’t say that can we?
In short the FT seems to be an ill conceived piece of marketing bull. A heavier binding that offers nothing compared to the original.
Posted by chill on Monday, 24 January, 2011 at 08:57 PM
By the by you are top of Google results for “dynafit failure”, hope you pistehors guys have good lawyers! I guess there will be no freebies or trips to Austria for you lot unlike Wildsnow. Hi hi.
Posted by chill on Monday, 24 January, 2011 at 08:59 PM
Lou Dawson has featured my testimony as well which proves his neutral position despite having been such a big proponent of Dynafit the last years.
Posted by on Monday, 24 January, 2011 at 09:11 PM