Howell SkiBindings founder, Rick Howell, was, at age 6, skiing in front of his father when Rick was hit by another skier who tried to ski between them — impacting Rick from behind. Rick fell and sustained a spiral tibia fracture (that's a ski-binding toe-related problem). Aside from the feelings about the behavior of the other skier, Rick's father — a civil engineer — was concerned not only about the wellness of his son but also because he had mounted and adjusted his son’s bindings. Rick's father re-applied his good-care and know-how even more diligently to dial-in Rick's bindings according to the latest methods. At that time, there were no standards for the function of ski-bindings (they were Dover cable-bindings). Three years later, Rick sustained a green-stick tibia fracture while racing (that's a ski-binding heel-related problem and an AFD-location problem (they were still Dover cable-bindings). Horrified, Rick's father took the skis and boots to a summer-home neighbor, Gordon Lipe, who was at that time the leading expert on ski-bindings in North America.
(( Lipe wrote critical 'test reports' on ski-bindings in almost every monthly issue of SKIING magazine throughout the late 1960's and early '70's (click link). Lipe also was the original developer of the 'Weight-&-Ability Method' (now called the 'Weight Method', ISO international standard 8061) to select ski binding settings. Lipe also developed the first ski binding test-measuring equipment — the Lipe Release Check; and developed the ski industry's 1st effective mechanical AFD — the Lipe Slider. In SKIING magazine, Lipe wrote and illustrated how to modify bindings to enhance 'safety' (back-ten, product liability laws were not what they are, today: modifications were routine — and, still, there were no safety standards for ski-binding function).))
Even with new, ‘top-of-the-line’ French-made bindings — three years later, during race-training, Rick sustained a complex spiral / bending tibia fracture (that's a problem involving the toe, the heel, and the AFD).
It was at that moment, Rick Howell knew what his life's work would be.
"If this happened after the leading expert (Gordon Lipe) serviced my bindings — then something's wrong with bindings, settings, testing, service — or any combination. I must solve this problem."
Meanwhile, Rick had no injuries while competing as a starting-member of the varsity, winning, Fayetteville-Manlius, New York, high school track and cross-country running teams (New York State champions).
Circling-back to learn what might have caused the skiing injuries — one year later, at age 13 — Rick became Gordon Lipe's part-time, weekend, lab assistant for SKIING magazine’s binding test reports.
Over the next 3-years, Rick learned that although Lipe's obsession with 'safety' was well intended, his focus was not balanced with actual skiing. Lipe's theories were based on Lipe's background as a brilliant mechanic (see footnote 1). 'But Lipe was not much of a skier. Rick was an active racer named to the NY State Ski Team (2). During high-school in the late-1960's when Rick began to modify his bindings to meet Lipe's suggestions, the bindings could not be raced without pre-release or—ironically—without elevated settings to avoid pre-release. Elevated settings defeated Lipe's notion of 'safety'. To Rick, the concept of 'safety' took-on a different meaning, because pre-release is dangerous — potentially far more dangerous than no-release. Pre-release can cause impact with a tree, a lift-tower, another skier — or even 'firm snow' — possibly causing a severe upper-body injury (head, spine, spleen). Rick believed that a 'properly functioning' binding should provide retention at chart settings (further ironically, because 'chart settings' were originally developed by Lipe). Solving this problem in part at age 16, Rick had a machine shop fabricate special ski-binding components to enhance edge-control without elevated settings.
One year later while Rick was visiting his sister, Beverly Howell, at Burke Mountain Academy and while still in high school, a major ski-binding company — Salomon SA of Annecy, France — came across his modified bindings and a deal was struck to integrate Rick's developments into what became the worldwide #1-selling alpine ski-binding throughout the mid-1970's — the Salomon 555. 📈
Also during high school, Rick scored 100’s in AP-Biology and AP-Physics.
Rick Howell racing for New England College at the NCAA Division-1 UVM Winter Carnival, 1975.
During the mid-70's while double majoring in engineering and business at New England College, Rick became a solid regional competitor in ski racing (3) while skiing on the hot-selling 555 ski-bindings that he co-developed. These bindings were, of course, further-modified by Rick.
Rick Howell at MIT's Charles Stark Draper Labs, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1976 conducting his undergraduate engineering thesis on ski-bindings.
Rick conducted most of his undergraduate engineering thesis on ski-bindings at MIT's Charles Stark Draper Labs — 'How Ski Bindings Affect Ski Vibration', mentored by MIT Aerospace Engineering Professor, Larry Young, Sc.D. Rick was never a student at MIT: Rick graduated in 1977 from New England College. Professor Young was at that time the chairman of the interdisciplinary Harvard-MIT Biomedical-Engineering Department and Chairman of the ASTM skiing safety committee: Professor Young invited Rick to follow-through on his ski-binding research at MIT's Draper Labs (part of Rick's research was also conducted, on-slope, at Pat's Peak ski area in Henniker, New Hampshire).
Starting also in 1974, Rick began attending and voting-on the promulgation of ASTM ski binding 'safety' standards at the 2nd annual ASTM skiing-safety meeting in Montréal ... continuing to today ... pro bono.
At the same time in the mid-'70's, Rick owned a small ski-binding service center located near the finish-line of the slalom racing trail at Pat's Peak ski area in Henniker, New Hampshire — catering to a wide range of regional racers. Rick was a Certified Binding Mechanic by Carl Ettlinger through the Skiing Mechanics and Manager's Workshops in 1973, '74, '75, '76, '77. Each racer’s bindings were individually modified and adjusted to special Howell-developed racing settings through the use of a Vermont Release Calibrator. Rick's binding modifications combined together with his special racing settings averted pre-release without the need for grossly elevated settings. Almost all of the NEC Ski Team, including Rick, raced with Howell-modified bindings and Howell-developed racing settings — with zero pre-release and zero injury — during 4-years of NCAA Division-1 ski racing.
Although the Salomon 555 was worldwide #1-selling throughout the mid-1970's, it didn't take much effort to discover that it was not great, functionally. Its success was sales-related due to a strong marketing campaign managed by the smart-marketing guy, Art Currier. Knowing this, Rick began a double-major at NEC — adding business.
Also at the same time, 1970-'77, Rick co-developed (together with Gilbert Delouche & Claude Gantet of Salomon SA of Annecy, France) a method to measure on-slope ski binding retention that could be matched to lab-measurements through the use of specially fabricated dynamic-impact test equipment also co-developed by Rick.
Further, from 1974 to '77, Rick Howell co-developed together with Wolfhart Hauser, MD, of Munich, Dr-Eng Peter Biermann of Stuttgart and by others near Munich, Germany within the International Association of Skiing — IAS 100, now universally called the 'DIN-System', DIN/ISO 9462 & ISO 8061— utilized worldwide ever since by 20-million skiers each year — including today. This activity was pro bono by Hauser, Biermann, Howell — causing a major skiing safety benefit, worldwide, reducing tibia fractures in alpine skiing by 80%.
Engineering-work performed by Rick Howell within the German IAS-100 group that became the German national standard, DIN 7881 — then became key elements within DIN / ISO 9462 & 8061, the main international alpine ski-binding standard. The international ISO group rejected the American ASTM proposal, but accepted the German standard: many of the American skiing ‘safety’ researchers ostracized Howell due to spite — but skiers worldwide gained a significant safety benefit. The incidence of skiing tibia fractures improved by 80% as a direct result of the ‘DIN System’ co-developed by Howell.
In 1977, one season after Rick was ranked #5 in the US (29 FIS Points) in the Downhill discipline of alpine ski racing — and was already considered by many in the ski industry to be one of the leading experts in ski-bindings — ‘new’ bindings he was testing, failed. Rick lost a ski, skied off a cliff at ~60+ MPH and landed on a ledge — rupturing his spleen. This was life-threatening. The operation to remove the spleen was successful — but this event was the last straw. The test device fabricated by a 3rd-party broke the night before the race while testing others' bindings, precluding Rick from testing his own bindings. The test report in SKIING magazine misrepresented data about the binding. ‘And the binding manufacturer supplied incorrect specifications to Howell about the binding. After a full month in the hospital — ending his ski racing — Rick Howell fully embarked into his critical mission …
‘To determine what went wrong with the bindings, the independent test equipment, and the independent test-report — Rick decided to work for Geze ski binding company.
Rick Howell, Geze USA Product Manager (1978-'86) utilizing a surrogate metallic-tibia ASTM F-504 ski binding test device fabricated by Carl Ettlinger of Vermont Safety Research (how ironic). Photo by Seth Masia, 1981, at Sugarbush Ski Resort during the VIP Introduction of the Geze SE3.
During those 8 years — from 1978 to 1986, starting at age 25 — Rick became the full-time Product Manager of Geze-USA, then in 1982 took-on the dual-role of Director of Marketing AND Product Manager of Geze-USA inside ELAN-USA.
Letter to Elan-USA president, Tim Jamieson, from the Managing Director of Geze GmbH of Stuttgart, Germany — congratulating Jamieson and Howell for good business success at Geze-USA. 📈
Rick Howell, Director of Marketing & Product Manager, GEZE-USA; Tim Jamieson, President, ELAN-GEZE USA.
Geze 900 series bindings became independently 'best rated' by Carl Ettlinger of SKIING magazine (again, how ironic) and by Stuftung Warentest consumer reports in Germany. Respectfully, the entire team at Geze — especially the German engineers — caused this improvement, not just Rick. While Rick was Director of Marketing, Geze USA went from an unprofitable 2% market-share to a profitable 20% market-share. This profitability-success was mostly due to the leadership of Geze-USA president, Tim Jamieson (a former bank-president in NYC — a finance-genius); due to Rick's product and marketing management; due to the work of 20 of the best independent sales reps in the ski industry; and due to the extraordinary international coordination work of Roland Böhme of the parent company, Geze GmbH. That was a great team effort.
Rick Howell was presented with the Geze GmbH parent company's 'Glass Award' for successful business accomplishments that caused over 100,000 pair of bindings to be sold in a single year. Rick personally retains this award today. 📈
At the request of Geze GmbH, Rick also presented his unique marketing strategies to the Canadian Geze distributor, Raymond Lanctôt, Ltee, at their twice-annual sales meetings in Montréal and at Mont-Tremblant ski resort in the Laurentians (Québec). Rick's presentations to Lanctôt spanned from 1978 to 1986. Geze ski-bindings became #1-selling in Canada in 1985. 📈
Geze USA sales team in Montenegro, 1986. From left: Tom Beckley, Tatiana, Chuck Bell, Roger Ford, Richie Fredericks, Kathy Morrison, Roland Böhme, Barb Bishop, Dick Lavigne, Peter Kidd, Ray Skeleton, Peter Kennedy, Rob Haggerty, Mike Adams, Rick Howell (blue hat), Bill Ehmke, Mark Sweeney. Photo by Tim Jamieson, president of ELAN-Geze USA.
A few years after Rick left Geze in 1986 — successfully, to expand CycleBinding — the ski-binding division of Geze GmbH was successfully sold to Abel Swiss watch company. The next year, Abel sold the Geze ski-binding unit to Group Bernard Tapie. Shortly later the French government seized, then sold, Tapie's ski-binding assets (Look and Geze) to Rossignol SA of France. (Today, Geze GmbH has 390-million Euros of annual revenue and employs 2,800 people in the architectural building-hardware business. Geze is one of the largest producers of top quality architectural door / window / building / hardware in Europe.)
Going back ... 'Starting in 1982, and concurrently while working full-time at Geze, Rick started his own company on the side (under a non-corporate opportunity agreement with Geze USA and Geze GmbH) to invent, develop and manage the manufacturing and distribution of what became the world's 1st hands-off clipless bicycle pedals, CycleBinding — creating the category of hands-off clipless pedals (Howell-sole-inventor, US Utility Patents 4,640,151 and 4,803,894). In 1989, CycleBinding, Inc. was sold to the Shelburne Corporation of Shelburne, Vermont. Over 1-million pair of clipless pedals are sold per year — including now, today.
Rick Howell, inventor, founder and professional manager of CycleBinding — world's 1st hands-off clipless bicycle pedals (2-years before Look), winner of BICYCLING, OUTSIDE and VELONEWS magazine road tests, 1983, '84, '85. 'Utilized by Scott Molina to win 25 consecutive USTS triathlons and by John Howard to set 3 world-records. 'Outsold Look 3-to-1 (1984, '85, '86) at Bike Nashbar and Specialized catalogs and at the California retail-chain, 2 Wheel Transit Authority. 📈
Immediately upon selling CycleBinding in 1989, Rick owned a turn-key-enterprise that successfully invented, developed, pilot-manufactured, and market-launched the first complete line of high-tech snowshoes & snowshoe bindings for Tubbs snowshoe company (5) — which Howell-invented snowshoes and snowshoes bindings have been, and remain today, worldwide #1-selling (Howell-sole-inventor, U.S. Utility Patent 5,259,128).
Rick Howell's company, Howell Product Development, invented & developed (1990-'93) through a turn-key contract, Tubbs snowshoes (worldwide #1-selling, each year, from 1993-to-today) —also expanding the total snowshoe market 50-times its original size. 📈
All during these successful product developments, Rick lived and skied in Stowe, Vermont where he continued to modify his own bindings to mitigate dangerous pre-release without a need for elevated settings.
Rick Howell at Stowe Mountain Resort, Stowe, Vermont.
‘Ever since the week-long international skiing safety-research conferences began in the early 1970’s, Rick attended them — of course, while working for Salomon, then Geze — including even later while developing the 1st clipless bicycle pedals and the 1st fully-functional high-tech snowshoes and snowshoes bindings. At these conferences, epidemiologists began reporting a significant rise in skiing ACL-injuries coinciding with the universal market-saturation of shaped skis. Everyone loved shaped skis. There was no going back to skis with mere side-cut.
Frequency of skiing ACL, MCL, and tibia injuries:
Time-line of frequency, or ‘incidence’ (not ‘incidents’) of MCL and ACL injuries (Grades I, II and III — “Grade-III” is complete rupture. Severity of all 3 grades are lumped together in this data). Tibia fractures are sub-divided into “torsional” and “bending”. Tibial-plateau and tibia-tuberosity fractures are not shown. Data is derived from 2 studies: Sugarbush (“USA”) and Médecins de Montange (“FR”). Statistical significance is strong throughout all of this data, 1972 - 2017. Larger incidence-numbers are ‘better’ — more days-between injuries. Data depicted near the top of the graph show ‘worse’ incidence — fewer days between injuries.
MCL and ACL injuries are, by far, the most frequent injuries in alpine skiing. ~50,000 skiing-ACL injuries are incurred each year, worldwide, today. This significantly high incidence of skiing-ACL injuries has been on-going for decades. ACL and MCL-injuries remain, by far, the most frequent injuries in skiing, today.
Severity of ACL, MCL, tibia & other skiing injuries:
MCL and ACL injuries are not only frequent, but severe, too — causing (respectively) 150 and 200 average days of lost athletic days. ACL-replacement surgery costs between US$20,000 to US$50,000 for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation, not including the cost of the onset of early arthritis, loss of income, and loss of athletic performance. Even highly rehabilitated world cup ski racers who have sustained a skiing-ACL-rupture rarely return to their full-athletic potential. ACL-injury rehabilitation takes approximately 8 to 10-months to accomplish. If every ACL-injured skier elected to surgically-replace their ruptured ACL, this scenario = $2.5-billion per year. Researchers believe ~40% of all ACL-ruptured skiers seek ACL-replacement surgery = ~$1-billion per year for diagnosis, treatment and rehab. Although medical-costs are socialized in some countries — there is no such thing as free-lunch: the cost is borne by taxes. Over the years, skiing ACL injuries have amounted to a total ~$20-billion. Further, ~50% of all ACL-injured people experience significant osteoarthritis ~10-years after injury.
MCL injury is not as severe as ACL (150 average athletic days lost) because the MCL receives significant blood supply to promote healing — whereas the ACL receives limited blood-supply.
Skiing ACL-injuries are frequent (presently 3,600 Mean Days Between Injury) and severe (200 Average Athletic Days Lost).
Rick Howell’s deep tacit knowledge of ski-bindings led him to explore the skiing ACL and MCL problem with a plan to find a solution.
(( It must also be noted that previously, in 1981, while Rick was Product Manager at Geze ski-binding company, he led the USA-commercialization of the Geze SE3 — the first ski-binding specifically engineered to address ACL-injury. The SE3 effectively addressed the skiing BIAD (Boot-Induced-Anterior-Drawer) skiing injury mechanism (~10% prevalence of all skiing-ACL injury mechanisms). However, the SE3 dangerously pre-released when used by strong, aggressive skiers. Rick then led the decision to withdraw the SE3 from the market in 1983 because it was not always possible to control who skied this model. (All other Geze 900-Series ski-bindings at that time were best-rated by all independent ski-binding test organizations that measured ski-binding function (TÜV; Stuftung Warentest; SKIING magazine) — and Marc Girardelli won the Overall FIS World Cup on the Geze 952R.) )
In the year 2001, Rick was approached by a former ski-racing colleague to help ‘fix problems’ in the development of an American binding that was thought by the former racer to address the skiing-ACL problem. Despite that racer’s complete lack of commercial experience with alpine ski-bindings — as well as all of the others’ complete lack of commercial ski-binding experience who were involved in the project — the group rejected Rick’s advice.
Rick Howell, with hand on snow, near the top of Mt. Hood performing on-snow-testing of a failed prototype alpine ski-binding made by another company.
Before resigning from the project within a few months of starting, Rick wrote an application for a grant with the Canadian federal government for C$700,000 for industrial research to explore the skiing-ACL biomechanical problem — and selected a team of biomechanical engineers at University of Montréal to perform the posited-research. Shortly after resigning, the Canadian (IRAP) funds were granted to the Canadian firm; the research was conducted; and the findings were presented by the academics at the 2003-ISSS conference in Pontresina, Switzerland (International Society for Skiing Safety). The presentation won ‘Highest Honors’ at the ISSS conference.
The skiing ACL-research promulgated by Rick Howell received the ‘Highest Honor’ award at the 2003 ISSS conference in Pontresina, Switzerland. Rick attended the conference, personally, 2-years after resigning from writing the public grant application that posited the problem and plausible solution. The Univ. Montréal researchers were brilliant in their research work. Shown here is the abstract of the published research in the top peer-reviewed medical journal, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, July, 2004.
At that time, Rick filed a utility patent application for an entirely different alpine ski-binding that addressed the skiing-ACL problem (Rick Howell sole inventor). KneeBinding ski-bindings are not Howell SkiBindings.
In 2013, Rick Howell filed a utility patent application for “another completely different invention” (quote by Montréal lawyer Robert Brouillette), which application was granted in 2016 by the U.S. Patent Office—becoming the core of Howell SkiBindings. Howell SkiBindings are not KneeBinding ski-bindings.
In the Spring of 2016, Rick Howell presented his ACL-friendly Howell SkiBinding technology — utilizing metallic-surrogates (not humans) based on ~10,000 lab-tests — at the 35th SITEMSH skiing safety conference in Inawashiro, Japan. Two related research presentations were then given at the 17th ESSKA orthopedic research conference in Barcelona, Spain; see page 64 & page 111 (reference 6); then, again, at several other skiing safety conferences around the world (see end-footnotes).
Here is a distribution of the injury-mechanisms that cause skiing-ACL injuries:
Prevalence of skiing-ACL injury-mechanisms point to “VALGUS dominant Phantom Foot & Slip Catch, 75%” — which is the same as 'abduction-loading’ (see peer-reviewed research by Tron Krosshaug, PhD and Tone Bere, PhD on skiing ACL-injury mechanisms: Oslo Sports Trauma Center in Oslo, Norway: PubMed).
Utilizing an inverse failure-analysis first developed by Case Western Reserve University’s former Professor of Biomechanical Engineering, Eugene Bahniuk, Ph.D., then modified, experimentally, by Rick Howell to include the measurement of the resultant-abduction-moment caused by abduction-force being applied to incremental positions along the full length of a test ski — thereby simulating and measuring a full spectrum of skiing injury mechanisms. This comprehensive experimental test method produced major breakthroughs in biomechanical engineering, including but not limited to: (1) a new understanding of the interaction between the tibia, ACL, and ski-binding function; and (2) biomechanical-proof validating that Howell SkiBindings can be uniquely ACL-friendly — whereas ordinary 2-mode alpine bindings cannot.
It is now well established by the top orthopedic / biomechanical researchers around the world that abduction-moment (dark green) loading is the dominant injury-mechanism in ACL-injuries (Hewitt, Krosshaug, 2021, IOC-Monaco). Here, below, are combinations of abduction-moments and tibia-torques (red) that — together — cause ACL-rupture, depending on where the applied-abduction-force enters a ski (7).
Bindings do not release in the above envelope: these are the biomechanical thresholds of torsional tibia-fracture — without Wolff's Law — see short black line; and (b) resultant tibia-torques and resultant abduction moments at ACL-rupture that arise from abduction force (blue) being applied to the medial (inside) edge of a ski at various points behind the projected-axis of the tibia. Example-1: When an abduction force enters the medial edge of a ski 20cm behind the projected-axis of the tibia — with a magnitude large enough to produce an abduction-moment of 12 daNm combined together with a tibia-torque of 4.5 daNm — ACL-rupture will occur before tibia-fracture. Example-2: When an abduction force enters a ski 56cm behind the projected-axis of the tibia — with a magnitude that produces tibia-torque of 11.5 daNm plus an abduction-moment that is of lesser-magnitude than the magnitude of tibia-torque — the tibia will fracture before ACL-rupture. The ratio of resultant-abduction-moment to resultant tibia-torque varies as a function of the position of the applied-abduction-force on the back-half of the medial edge of a ski. Where the ratio is greater than 1.0, ACL rupture can occur; where the ratio is less than 1.0, tibia fracture can occur. Both examples assume an average U.S. male weighing 170 pounds, a 25-degree knee-flexion angle, and an ACL-rupture limit at 20% elongation. These findings are major biomechanical discoveries by Rick Howell that provide direct insight toward demonstrating, validating, and calibrating ACL-friendly Howell SkiBindings.
Ski binding toes and heels are force-imparting mechanisms that read and react to force ... and there is a singular applied-abduction-force for each unique combination of tibia-torque AND abduction-moment at ACL-rupture for any given position where the abduction force enters the ski. An abduction-force entering a ski between -10cm to -55cm behind the projected axis of the tibia can cause ACL-rupture, not tibia-fracture. Abduction-forces entering ski -55cm or farther behind the tibia-axis can cause tibia-fracture not ACL-rupture. The term, "can cause" is used because these two different types of injuries are not only position-dependent — they also require critical magnitude (see the vertical axis in the biomechanical envelopes, below).
This finding about the position-dependency of the applied-abduction-force that causes tibia-fracture or ACL-rupture — is a major biomechanical discovery that is utilized to address the ACL-problem through special ACL-friendly Howell SkiBindings (sm) developed by Rick Howell.
How can ski-bindings address these findings?
To associate special new ski-binding function with the above biomechanical discoveries we must first simplify the above factors. To do this, we convert the simultaneous torsional-torques at ACL-rupture and abduction-moments at ACL-rupture — to applied abduction force at ACL-rupture (see below).
((sub-note: light-green depicts pre-release.))
The blue curved-lines form a 2D ‘release-envelope’ for ordinary 2-mode alpine ski-bindings. '2-mode' = lateral release at toe, vertical release at heel. Other bindings with 'so-called pivot-turntables' (not shown here) produce release-envelopes that are even worse because no ski boot can release laterally through the side-lugs of a pivot-turntable. Other bindings with ‘diagonal-heel release' (not shown here) generate approximately the same adverse (blue colored) 2D release envelopes because 'diagonal-heel release' bindings require lateral-abduction force plus upward-heel loading to release. ACL-injury-events do not include upward-lateral loading. ACL-injuries include lateral abduction force + downward loading. Therefore, ‘diagonal-heel release’ bindings cannot respond to ACL-injury producing events. The manufacturer of the former 'diagonal-heel release' bindings admits in their literature that their bindings produce no effect toward mitigating ACL-injuries: the warning by that company is true for their former bindings.
The thin black curved line (with data-dots interspersed throughout), above, forms the release-envelope for 3-mode ACL-friendly Howell SkiBindings — featuring additional, non-pre-releasing, lateral-heel release. Only Howell SkiBindings are specially-tuned to operate in the 'white space' — below tibia-fracture, below ACL-rupture, and above pre-release.
This biomechanical testing is a major breakthrough — proving that other bindings cannot address abduction-dominant skiing-ACL injury mechanisms, whereas ACL-friendly Howell SkiBindings can.
Rick Howell's pro bono biomechanical research presentations are met with great enthusiasm by most orthopedic researchers — but not by the other ski binding companies and not by researchers who are subsidized by the other binding companies. At the ESSKA orthopedic conference in Barcelona in 2016, three leading orthopedic researchers stood — including Peter Brucker, MD, a German National Ski Team physician — to signal strong enthusiasm toward Rick's research. Receiving this kind of enthusiasm at peer-reviewed scientific forums is unprecedented — and serves, in-part, to validate Howell’s new ski-binding technology. Full validation must come from a prospective intervention study. A proper prospective intervention study will take ~5-years and cost ~$4-million to perform. Meanwhile, the biomechanical proof is compelling.
Rick Howell's metallic-surrogate utilized to test the biomechanics of ACL-friendy skiing without exposing humans to injury (shown in this experimental version bolted-together with no-binding, as when bindings fail to release).
"Nothing seems to go wrong with Rick's testing because his methods are so simple."
— a leading researcher in biomechanical engineering and sports science.
On October 11, 2016, Rick Howell was granted U.S. Utility Patent 9,463,370 uniquely addressing the positive effect of low stand-height on ACL integrity while imbedding the patented technology into an open-art-version of an alpine ski-binding with non-pre-releasing lateral-heel release.
Howell US Utility Patent 9,463,370, October 11, 2016, the heart of ACL-friendly Howell SkiBindings.
"Rick Howell is one of the foremost ski binding engineers in the world."
—Chris Brown, PhD, PE, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, WPI, former NCAA All-American ski racer, peer-reviewed author of scores of scientific papers on skiing safety.
On March 17, 2017, Rick Howell presented his pro bono research at the IOC (International Olympic Committee) conference on Prevention of Injury in Sport, in Monaco, under the chairmanship of Professor Roald Bahr, PhD, of the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center and under the session-moderation of University of Salzburg Professor Erich Müller, PhD: 'Mitigation of ACL Rupture in Alpine Skiing Through Ski Bindings' (see page-41). The presentation abstract is published in the February 2017 issue of the peer-reviewed medical journal — British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51:p-331 http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/51/4/332.1
On April 22, 2017, Rick Howell presented further enhanced biomechanical research at the ISSS (International Society for Skiing Safety) conference in Innsbruck, Austria — hosted by University of Innsbruck, Department of Sports Science — under the session-moderation of University of Munich Professor Veit Senner. Rick Howell's presentation: "Theoretical ACL Integrity with Ski Bindings".
In early Spring, 2019, Rick Howell presented years of additional, new research, biomechanically validating the special release settings for the non-pre-releasing additional lateral-heel release-function of ACL-friendly Howell SkiBindings at ICSS (International Conference on Science in Skiing) at Voukatti, Finland and at ISSS Squaw Valley, California USA. Continued refinements on this research were presented at ESSKA-Milan (virtual) 2021 and at IOC-Monaco (in-person), November, 2021.
Here's the current Position Statement by SITEMSH ( Société Internationale de Traumatologie et Médicine des Sports d’Hiver )
"There is enough mechanical and biomechanical evidence to assert that it is possible to reduce knee injuries in alpine skiing, especially those involving the ACL, with [specially] designed, manufactured and adjusted ski bindings.
The presentations and demonstrations at SITEMSH and ISSS meetings, especially at SITEMSH since November of 2014, show ample support for this assertion.
Conventional modes of release are laterally at the toe and vertically at the heel. To accomplish a reduction in knee injuries, ski bindings also need to have a mode of release, laterally at the heel.
This additional mode allows ski bindings to respond to lateral loads centered on the inside edge of ski, close to and at the rear of the center of the boot heel.
These loads result in a combination of [abduction moment] and inward [tibia torque] on the knee.
These two [loads] together, not individually, have been shown to be responsible for increasing the risk of inducing injurious strains to the ACL. Apparently most of the ACL injuries in alpine skiing are caused by these kinds of loads.
Conventional bindings cannot respond appropriately, and clinical trials with new ski bindings should be designed to verify this thesis."
Rick Howell has parlayed his youth's athletic achievements; youth’s skiing-injuries; massive amount of injury-free adult skiing; business and engineering education; co-development of the universal DIN-System for ski-binding release settings; corporate marketing, manufacturing and distribution management; history of product development success including 5 worldwide #1-selling sports products; newly-patented ski-binding technology; and peer-approved scientific research on the biomechanical validation of ACL-friendly Howell SkiBindings.
It was inevitable.
New Howell SkiBindings. Powerful anti-pre-release. Never-before-seen edge-control. Liteness. Durability. Patented (17mm) low stand-height. Additional lateral-heel release providing ACL-friendly skiing. Scroll-right to see full-image.
"If Rick's bindings do everything ordinary bindings do — and if there might also be the possibility of mitigating ACL-injury — why wouldn't you ski them?"
—Jake Shealy, PhD, Professor Emeritus, RIT, epidemiologist in skiing.
New ACL-friendly Howell SkiBindings (sm) will be ready for shipment October, 2023. A 30% discount on the full-price and free shipping* is provided when reservation-deposits ($80) are placed now: net balance payable Oct 2023, $480, Howell Mars and Howell Venus models. Go to these links to place your pre-order deposit:
Howell Venus DIN 2.5-9. Extra ACL friendly for women.
Howell Mars DIN 4-13. Decisively ACL-friendly. Powerful anti-pre-release. Resolute edge-control.
Howell Planet-B DIN 8-22. Titanium housings. CAUTION: EXTREME SKIERS & RACERS, ONLY.
ACL-friendly. Anti-pre-release. Max-edge-control.
FLAT-OUT SKIING CONFIDENCE.
It was inevitable.
PO Box 1274, Stowe, Vermont 05672 USA
1— Gordon Lipe's father was the inventor of the automatic transmission — and Gordon was an inherited-owner of Lipe Rollway Bearing Company in Syracuse, New York. He and his father were gifted mechanics who made a fortune selling their automatic transmission technology to General Motors. Gordon Lipe lived on Skaneateles Lake in central New York.
2— While racing out of Cazenovia Ski Club in central New York, Rick earned positions on the New York State Ski Team in '69, '70 and ‘71.
3— Rick earned 29 FIS-points in the DH discipline of alpine ski racing — a handicap that placed him 5th in the U.S within his age group, in 1976; was a member of the Can-Am Team (USSA 'Eastern Automatics'); and on the New Hampshire State Ski Team in 1976. Separately, Rick also raced SL, GS and DH for the winning Division-1 New England College Ski Team — and was inducted together with the whole NEC Ski Team into the NEC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.
4— Carl Ettlinger replaced Gordon Lipe after Lipe's 12-year authorship of the SKIING 'Binding Performance Reports'.
5— Tubbs snowshoes are not Howell SkiBindings.
6— 'ESSKA': European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy. ~4000 orthopedic clinicians and orthopedic researchers attended the 2016 ESSKA conference in Barcelona, Spain.
7— Not based on prospective intervention study: based on plausible biomechanical research presented by University of Montréal researchers, Nicola Hagemeister, PhD and Yan Chavelier, PhD, at ISSS-Pontresena, Switzerland (2003); and by Rick Howell, pro bono, at ISSS-Niigata, Japan (2005); ISSS-Aviemore, Scotland (2007); ISSS-Bariloche, Argentina (2015); SITEMSH-Flachau, Austria (2015); SITEMSH-Inawashiro, Japan (2016); ESSKA-Barcelona, Spain (2016); International Olympic Committee - Monte Carlo, Monaco (2017); ISSS-Innsbruck, Austria (2017); ICSS-Vuokatti, Finland (March, 2019); ISSS-Squaw Valley Ski Resort, USA (April, 2019); ESSKA-Milan (virtual), 2021; IOC-Monaco (in-person), November, 2021; ISSS & SITEMSH (joint conference), Serre-Chevalier, France, 2022. (It's also plausible that Howell SkiBindings, properly tuned as shown in the above performance-envelopes, might also mitigate MCL-rupture, meniscus-injury, and tibial-plateau compression-fracture — all due to mitigating abduction-moment loading — but more research is necessary to validate the interaction between Howell SkiBindings and these other types of skiing-injuries.)
Referenced scientific/medical conferences:
'ISSS': International Society for Skiing Safety. [https://www.isss2019.com]
'SITEMSH': Société Internationale de Traumatologie et Médicine des Sports d’Hiver. [https://www.sitemsh.org]
'IOC': International Olympic Committee (2017 conference on Prevention of Sports Injury). [http://www.ioc-preventionconference.org/2017/]
‘ICSS’: International Conference on Science in Skiing. [http://www.icss2019.fi]
’ESSKA’: European Society for Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy. [https://www.esska.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=996937]
Copyright © 2022 by Rick Howell and Howell Ski Bindings. All rights reserved.
U.S. Patent 9,463,370. Other patents pending.
'Howell SkiBindings', ‘Howell Ski Bindings’, ‘Howell Bindings’, 'Howell Planet-B', ‘Howell PlanetB’, 'Howell Mars', 'Howell Venus', and 'It was inevitable.' are Service Marks (sm).
Content subject to change, without notice.
Howell SkiBindings company is against (a) ski waist widths greater than 90mm AND against (b) all 'pin-binding's' (except Trab TR2 and ‘Shift’ — though ‘Shift’ bindings provide no mitigation of ACL-injury). This position statement is due to the association of fat-skis and pin-bindings with severe, high-energy tibia-plateau / tibial-tuberosity fractures, cumulative miniscus-damage, and MCL-rupture. These are the fastest-growing categories of injuries in skiing — matching the growth of fat-skis and pin-bindings. The high-energy nature of these skiing fractures involve multiple-fragments, difficult surgical reconstruction, and 10 to 15-months of aggressive rehabilitation. Fat skis on firm snow and pin-bindings in any snow (except, again, Trab TR2 and ‘Shift’) — are a serious problem for the sustainability of our beautiful sport. The new ISO standards on pin-bindings must be revised to reflect human-biomechanics.
References: (1) Dominik Heim, MD; SITEMSH-Japan, 2016. (2) Zorko; Nemec; Matjacic; Olensek; Alpine Skiing Simulations Prove Ski Waist-Width Influences Knee Joint Kinematics; ISSS-Innsbruck, Austria, 2017. (3) Stenroos; Pakarinen; Jalkanen; Mälkiä; Handolin; Tibial Fractures in Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding in Finland: A Retrospective Study on Fracture Types and Injury Mechanisms in 363 patients; Scand J Surg Off Organ Finn Surg Soc Scand Surg Soc., Sept 2015, doi:10.1177/1457496915607410. (4) Improved Short Term Outcomes in Tibial Plateau Fractures of Snow Sports Injuries Treated with Immediate Open Reduction Internal Fixation; Janes, MD; Leonard, MSPH; Phillips, PA-C; Salottolo, MPH; Abbott, MD, Bar-Or, MD; ISSS-Innsbruck, Austria, 2017.