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About Howell SkiBindings

     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 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, heel, and 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 work was based on his 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 own 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, lift-tower, another skier or even 'firm snow' — possibly causing severe upper-body injury (head, neck, organs).  Rick believed that 'properly functioning' bindings should provide anti-pre-release 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, including 4 members of the U.S. Ski Team.  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 — set 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 in the mid-1970's, it didn't take much effort to discover that it was not great, functionally, without Rick’s continued modifications.  Its market success was mostly 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 (anti-pre-release function, independently of settings) 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 co-developed together with Wolfhart Hauser, MD, of Munich, Dr-Eng Peter Biermann of Stuttgart and others near Munich, Germany — within the International Association of Skiing (IAS) — what is now universally called the 'DIN-System', DIN/ISO 9462 & ISO 8061utilized worldwide by 20-million skiers each year, including today.  This activity was pro bono by Hauser, Biermann, Howell and the others — 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 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 then 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 on ski-bindings — ‘pilot-production’ bindings he was testing for a 3rd-party, 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 another 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 performance-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 …  


The Mission.

     ‘To determine what went wrong with the bindings, the test equipment and the magazine 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 U.S. Product Manager of Geze-USA, then in 1982 took-on a dual-role as 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 — at the SIA Ski Trade Show, Las Vegas.


   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 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;  the work of 20 independent sales reps;  the extraordinary international coordination work of Roland Böhme of the parent company, Geze GmbH;  and ski-shops everywhere.  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 marketing strategies to the Canadian Geze distributor, Raymond Lanctôt, Ltee, at their twice-annual sales meetings in Montréal and at Mont-Tremblant ski resort of the Laurentians in the Provence of 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 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 400-million Euros of annual revenue and employs 2,800 people in the architectural building-hardware business. Geze GmbH remains today one of the largest producers of top quality architectural door / window / building / hardware in Europe and Asia.


     Going back ...  'Starting in 1982, and concurrently while working full-time at Geze, Rick started his own company on the side (under non-corporate opportunity agreements with Geze USA and Geze GmbH) to invent, develop and manage the manufacturing and distribution of what became the world's 1st hands-off clip-on bicycle pedals, CycleBinding creating the category of clip-on pedals  (Howell-sole-inventor, US Utility Patents 4,640,151 and 4,803,894).  In 1989, CycleBinding, Inc. was sold to Shelburne Corporation of Shelburne, Vermont.  Over 1-million pair of clip-on pedals are sold per year — including today. 

Rick Howell, inventor, founder and professional manager of CycleBinding — world's 1st hands-off clip-on 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, and trade-market-launched (1989-'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 alpine ski-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 while working for Salomon and Geze, including even later while developing the 1st hands-off clip-on bicycle pedals and the 1st fully-functional high-tech snowshoes and snowshoes bindings.  At those conferences, epidemiologists began reporting a significant rise in skiing ACL-injuries coinciding with the universal market-saturation of shaped skis.  Everyone loves shaped skis.  There was no going back to skis with mere side-cut.  

     ‘But alpine bindings did not evolve with the evolution of shaped skis.


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 fractures are not shown in this data.  Data is derived from 2 studies: Sugarbush (“USA”) and Médecins de Montange (“FR”).  Statistical significance is strong throughout all of this data.  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.

Severity of ACL, MCL, tibia & other skiing injuries:

     MCL and ACL injuries are not only frequent, but severe, too — causing, respectively, 150 and 200 lost athletic days on the average.  ACL-replacement surgery costs between US$20,000 to US$50,000 for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation,  not including the cost of related arthritis, loss of income, and loss of athletic performance.  Even highly rehabilitated world cup ski racers who have sustained an 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 Grade-3 osteoarthritis ~10-years after injury with or without reconstructive surgery.  This is why ACL-injury is severe.

     (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.)

     Alpine 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 binding specifically engineered to address a solution to 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 comprehensive ski-binding function (TÜV-Munich;  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.  The binding weighed 8-pounds ( ! ) and locked-up when put on edge!!

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 problem — and selected a team of biomechanical researchers at University of Montréal / ÉTS / CHUM to perform the posited-research.  Shortly after resigning, the Canadian (IRAP / Paré) funds were granted to the Canadian firm and to the Montréal researchers;  the research was conducted;  and the findings were presented at the international Society for Skiing Safety (ISSS) conference in Pontresina, Switzerland.  The presentation won ‘Highest Honors’ at the 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 University of Montréal / ÉTS / CHUM team performed brilliant research. Shown here is the abstract published in the 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-testsat 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 more research presentations were given at several other top skiing-safety and skiing-science conferences that were held 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%” — both of which mechanisms are 'abduction-dominant’.  See peer-reviewed research by Tron Krosshaug, PhD;  and separately by 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 additional measurement of the resultant-abduction-moment caused by abduction-force being applied to a range of positions along the full length of a test ski — thereby simulating and measuring a full spectrum — every permutation and combination — of skiing injury mechanisms.  This comprehensive experimental test method produced several major breakthroughs in biomechanical engineering, including but not limited to:  (1) a new understanding about the interaction between the length of the tibia, the integrity of the ACL, and ski-binding function / non-function;  and (2) biomechanical-proof validating that 3-mode Howell SkiBindings are uniquely ACL-friendly — whereas ordinary 2-mode alpine bindings are not.

     It is now well established by top orthopedic / biomechanical researchers around the world that abduction-moment (dark green) loading is the dominant injury-mechanism in ACL-injuries (Hewitt;  and separately, Krosshaug, 2021, IOC-Monaco).  

     Here, below, are combinations of abduction-moments and tibia-torques (red) that — together — cause ACL-rupture, depending on where along the length of the ski the applied-abduction-force enters the 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 biomechanical thresholds of  (b) resultant tibia-torques and resultant abduction moments at ACL-rupture that arise from abduction force being applied to the medial (inside) edge of a ski at various positions 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 that produces a resultant-abduction-moment of 12 daNm AND a resultant-tibia-torque of 4.5 daNm (where there is a greater magnitude of resultant-abduction-moment compared with resultant-tibia-torque) — ACL-rupture will occur before tibia-fracture.  

The ratio of resultant-abduction-moment to resultant-tibia-torque is unique at each point along the length of the ski.


Example-2:  When an abduction force enters the medial edge of a ski 56cm behind the projected-axis of the tibia with a magnitude that produces a resultant-tibia-torque of 11.5 daNm AND a resultant-abduction-moment of 11.0 daNm (where there is less magnitude of resultant-abduction-moment compared with resultant-tibia-torque— the tibia will fracture before ACL-rupture.  


Where, along the length of the ski, the ratio of resultant-abduction-moment to resultant tibia-torque is greater than 1.0, ACL rupture can occur.  Where the ratio is less than 1.0, tibia fracture can occur.  


Both of the above examples are based on the anthropometrics of the Hybrid-III Crash Dummy utilized by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Commission—an average U.S. male weighing 172 pounds.  Further, the data herein relies on 25-degrees of knee-flexion and an ACL elastic-limit of 20% elongation at rupture (extrapolated by Howell from Andriacchi, 2013).


The above findings are major biomechanical discoveries 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, as noted above, 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 abduction force enters a ski.  

     How can force-imparting alpine ski-bindings address these findings

     To associate a new paradigm of ski-binding function to the above biomechanical discoveries we must simplify the above factors.  To do this, we convert the simultaneous resultant-torsional-tibia-torques at ACL-rupture and resultant-abduction-moments at ACL-rupture — to peak applied abduction force at ACL-rupture.


Step-1.  Inverse-transformation from resultant torques and resultant moments to …


Step 2.   … inverse-transformation process …


Step 3.   … inversely-transformed to applied-force:

☀️   Above — the unique 3D ski-binding performance-envelope (depicting the extraordinary release-function of ACL-friendly Howell SkiBindings with additional lateral-heel release and special lateral-heel release-settings:  dark-red and dark-green wireforms) imbedded into 3D biomechanical-threshold-envelope of:  tibia-integrity-limit (black wire-form),  ACL integrity-limit (orange);  MCL integrity-limit (purple).


❌   Below — the horrific 3D ski-binding release-envelope of an ordinary 2-mode alpine ski-binding:  (dark-red, dark-green,  and orange) imbedded into the 3D biomechanical-threshold envelopes:  tibia-integrity-limit (black);  ACL integrity-limit (orange);  MCL integrity-limit (purple).  

The dark-red & dark-green 3D release-envelope of the ordinary 2-mode binding converts to orange where its release-envelope pokes-through the ACL and MCL threshold-limits (also orange).  This is how the ACL can rupture with ordinary 2-mode alpine ski-bindings.

Above:  Lots of adverse orange (rupture) in this horrific set of 3D release-envelopes — where an ordinary 2-mode alpine ski-binding’s release-envelope pokes through the biomechanical threshold envelope of the ACL (and MCL).  ACL and MCL rupture is clearly depicted where abduction force is applied to the ski anywhere between 35cm behind the tibia-axis and the tibia-axis itself — when the magnitude of the 2-mode binding’s peak lateral (toe-only) release level exceeds the biomechanical thresholds that are depicted in the 3D model.


The release-results of both types of bindings (both bindings set at 6.0 daNm of torsional release torque) — are simplified and displayed here:


     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. Still other former-bindings with ‘diagonal-heel release' (not shown here) generate approximately the same adverse (blue colored) 2D release envelopes because 'diagonal-heel release' bindings required 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, former bindings with ‘diagonal-heel release’ could not respond to ACL-injury producing events. The manufacturer of the former 'diagonal-heel release' bindings admitted in their literature that their bindings produced no effect toward mitigating ACL-injuries: that former warning by that other 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. ☀️☀️☀️


    The experimental testing performed over the past 20-years by Rick Howell has produced several major biomechanical breakthroughs and several alpine ski-binding engineering breakthroughs — proving that ordinary 2-mode alpine ski-bindings cannot address abduction-dominant skiing-ACL injury mechanisms, whereas extraordinary 3-mode alpine Howell SkiBindings can.  ☀️☀️☀️

     Rick Howell's pro bono biomechanical research presented at major medical conferences around the world (see footnotes below) 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 SkiBinding technology.  Full validation must come from an epidemiological prospective intervention study.  A proper epidemiological prospective intervention study will take ~5-years and cost ~$4-million to perform.  No ski binding company has ever had the financial resources to perform a proper epidemiological prospective intervention study.

Meanwhile, the biomechanical proof is plausible and compelling.


Anthropometrically-correct 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 (minimal abduction lever-arm) on ACL integrity during slip-catch and phantom-foot skiing injury-mechanisms (which mechanisms comprise approx 75% of all skiing-ACL injury mechanisms) — while imbedding the patented technology into an open-art-version of a pure 3-mode 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'.  The abstract is published in the February 2017 issue of the peer-reviewed medical journal, British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51:p-331    See page 41.

     On April 22, 2017, Rick Howell presented 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, "Theoretical ACL Integrity with Ski Bindings".  

    In 2019, Rick presented new research that biomechanically validated the special range of 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 of this research were presented at ESSKA-Milan (virtual) 2021;  IOC-Monaco (in-person), November, 2021;  ISSS / SITEMSH Serre-Chevalier, France, March, 2022;  and ICSS-Saalbach-Hinterglemm, March, 2023.



     ☀️☀️☀️  Rick Howell has parlayed his youth's athletic achievements;  youth’s skiing-injuries;  massive injury-free adult skiing;  business and engineering education;  co-development of the universal DIN-System for ski-binding release settings;  successful corporate marketing, manufacturing and distribution management;  history of product development success including 5 worldwide #1-selling high-tech sports products;  currently utility-patented ski-binding technology;  and breakthrough, peer-approved, scientific research — to invent, develop, biomechanically-validate, demonstrate and calibrate — ACL-friendly, Howell SkiBindings.  


     New ACL-friendly Howell SkiBindings.  Powerful anti-pre-release.  Never-before-seen edge-control.  Liteness.  Durability.  Patented low stand-height.  Additional lateral-heel release.  ACL-friendly skiing


It was inevitable.


"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 will be ready for shipment October, 2024.   A 30% discount on the full-price and free shipping* is provided when deposits ($80) are placed now:  net balance payable Oct 2024,  $480, Howell Mars and Howell Venus models. 

Go to these links to place a 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.





PO Box 1274,  Stowe, Vermont  05672  USA      1.802.793.4849




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);  IOC-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;  and and ICSS-Saalbach-Hinterglemm, March, 2023.  


(It's also plausible that Howell SkiBindings, properly tuned as shown in the above performance-envelopes, might also mitigate MCL, meniscus, and tibial-plateau injury — 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.  []

'SITEMSH':   Société Internationale de Traumatologie et Médicine des Sports d’Hiver.  []

'IOC':   International Olympic Committee (2017 conference on Prevention of Sports Injury).  []

‘ICSS’:   International Conference on Science in Skiing.   []

’ESSKA’:   European Society for Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy.  []



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-bindings' (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 fractures.  This type of injury matches the growth of fat-skis and pin-bindings.  The high-energy nature of this type of fracture involves multiple bone fragments, difficult surgical reconstruction, and 10 to 15-months of aggressive rehabilitation.  Fat skis on firm snow and pin-bindings in any snow (except 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.  A/T boot soles with ‘metal dimples’ are incomparable with ACL-friendly Howell SkiBindings.

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.