Until now, you needed a race-style boot to ski a race-style ski. Not because of the performance aspects of the boot, but because of compatibility with the binding on the race ski. Skis that have a race plate (i.e. a proper plate, not just a binding interface), have race bindings on them. And race bindings are only compatible with alpine boots with flat hard soles (ISO 5355). But now, there is a plate + binding combination that accommodates GripWalk boots as well!
Why is this relevant? Over the past three seasons or so, most high-end ski boots (non-competition boots, basically the highest flex and narrowest consumer boots) have been fitted with GripWalk soles. Bindings that still work properly with these grippy, rubbery parts of the GripWalk soles need a GripWalk certified AFD (Anti Friction Device) in the toe piece to ensure a good release and healthy knees.
These AFDs are quite common in freeride, all-mountain, and consumer groomer zoomer system bindings. But up until now, there was no GripWalk compatible binding that could be mounted efficiently onto a race plate. In short: if you wanted to ski a race ski with race plate, you were more or less driven towards the competition end of ski boot ranges, the uncomfortable narrow ones. Try teaching on those all day if you’re an instructor. You will probably cope and not whine too much. But in the modern-day ski boot world, you don’t necessarily need those competition boots for the level of precision and power that those high-end 130 flex consumer boots provide at a much higher comfort level.
Free at last
Enter the Tyrolia Freeflex GripWalk demo binding. The Tyrolia Freeflex bindings have been paired with Head, Elan, and Fischer race skis and plates for years. But now, there is a demo version that is GripWalk certified. Fischer calls it ‘RC4 Z13 GW Freeflex Demo’, Tyrolia also presents a 14 DIN version.
We skied with the Fischer Z13 Freeflex binding mounted on a new RC4 CT ski with the ‘M/O Race plate’. So, a race plate with a GripWalk binding on top. Granted, DIN 13 or 14 is hardly ‘race’-worthy. But for most recreational skiers, it is plenty. Even for high-level ski instructors that would ski on ‘pro’ models and cheater GS skis with plates, being able to just ski your GripWalked ski boots is a big step forward in terms of comfort. If such a boot gives you the performance you need, there now is a binding to match.
I think it’s only a matter of time before GripWalk takes over as the industry standard for non-FIS boots. And obviously, compatible bindings and plates are not far behind.