If your bindings are screwed to your ski using the middle mounting holes, you may be leaving significant performance on the table. The middle mounting holes may get you close to the factory recommended binding location IF the bindings and ski are both current models from the same manufacturer; but even then, maybe not. And when mixing binding and ski brands, it’s not unusual for the last hole in either direction to be the best one to use. Never assume the middle hole has any significance. Always measure binding location and get as close as possible to either factory spec or a specific target measurement.
There are other problems with the mounting holes in most binding plates. Even if the middle hole happens to match the factory spec binding location, the unique way each skier moves around on their ski can effect where their bindings should be. And when customizing binding location, the holes drilled in the mounting plates are usually too far apart to achieve optimal personalized binding placement.
Some might argue that as long as the bindings can be located relatively close to the sweet spot, we can either fine-tune the ski’s behavior by adjusting the fin, or simply adapt our skiing technique to this sub-optimal binding location. Both of these adaptations may work okay, but they’re still compromises. I’d rather mount the bindings exactly over the sweet spot; a location that is quite unique to each individual.
But what’s most important to understand is that when moving the bindings back and forth, we are also changing how much surface area the tail of the ski has. And changing the tail’s surface area changes how freely the tail of the ski smears or drifts around turns. Moving forward gives the ski a longer tail so it will smear less and turn more slowly. If the bindings too far forward, the ski will resist finishing turns and cause the skier to fall back into wheelies. Attempts to force the ski to turn more aggressively by engaging more tip will then lead to either tip-grab or the tip washing out due to insufficient support.
Moving the bindings back increases the load on what’s now a shorter tail, making it smear more around turns. When the bindings are too far back, the ski will tend to over-smear or over-rotate into too much angle at the finish of turns. Too much angle also causes tip-grab, form-crushing tip pressure, and/or wheelies to relieve this spike in tip pressure.
Between these opposing extremes is your personal sweet spot, the balance point that is ideal given your height, foot size, binding system, and unique collection of skiing habits. Your sweet spot is a point not a range. This is why it’s good to be able to adjust binding location as finely as possible.
For reasons outlined in Fin Whispering, identifying the sweet spot for your personal binding location before moving on to custom-tuning your fin will deliver the best possible ski setup. If your bindings aren’t ideally located, you’ll end up compensating for a fundamental imbalance with a compromised fin setup—and two compromises never add up to better performance than two optimizations.
Yes, you can overcome a less than perfect binding location with great skiing skills. But if you have good technique, that means your skiing is largely an expression of good subconscious habits. If your ski is not in tune with your habits, it will make your skiing less automatic, meaning more challenging. And we want our skiing to be as automatic as possible. Being able to ski on auto-pilot is good for consistency; consistency breeds confidence; and confidence is a key ingredient to peak performance.
And binding location is the cornerstone of all great ski setups.