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About Howell SkiBindings

     Howell SkiBindings founder and professional manager, Rick Howell was, at age 6, skiing in front of his dad 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 dad — an engineering technician — was concerned because he had mounted and adjusted Rick's bindings.  Rick's dad then re-applied himself even more diligently to dial-in Rick's bindings according to the latest methods.  There were no standards for the 'allowable-function' of ski-bindings at that time.  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).  Horrified, Rick's dad took the skis and boots to a summer-home neighbor, Gordon Lipe, who was at that time the leading 'safety' 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.  Lipe also was the original developer of the 'Weight-&-Ability Method' (now, the 'Weight Method') to select ski binding settings.  Lipe also developed the first ski binding test-measuring equipment — the Lipe Release Check;  and 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).  Three years later, in 1965, 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 all four.  I must solve this problem." 

 

     (Meanwhile, Rick had no injuries while competing as a starting-member of the varsity, winning, Fayetteville-Manlius, New York middle-school, then high school track and cross-country running teams.)

     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 Lipe's SKIING magazine 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 (1).  'But Lipe was not a good skier.  Rick was an active racer (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, unfortunately, defeated Lipe's notion of 'safety'.  The concept of 'safety' began to take-on a different meaning, because pre-release is dangerous — potentially far more dangerous than non-release.  Pre-release can cause impact with a tree, a lift-tower, another skier — or even 'firm snow' — possibly causing 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 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 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% (5's) in AP-Biology and AP-Physics.)

Rick Howell racing for NEC at the NCAA Division-1 UVM Winter Carnival, 1975.

 

     During the mid-70's while double majoring in civil engineering and business management at New England College, Rick became a solid competitor in regional East Coast ski racing (3) while skiing on the hot-selling bindings that he co-developed.  These bindings were, of course, further-modified by Rick.  -;)   

Rick Howell at MIT Charles Stark Draper Labs, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1976.

 

     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 Professor, Larry Young, ScD.  Rick was never a student at MIT:  Rick graduated in 1977 from New England College.  MIT 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 initiate Rick's 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 and other parts of the research were conducted in the engineering labs at New England College).

     Starting in 1974, Rick began attending and voting-on the development of ASTM ski binding 'safety' standards at the 2nd bi-annual ASTM meeting in Montréal in 1974 ... to today ... pro bono.   ('But the process of utilizing 'consensus voting' to shape biomechanical engineering safety standards is deeply flawed by the agendas of those whose main goal is monetary-profit as a consequence of loose safety standards;  by others who utilize 'legal tactics' and 'political-engineering' to shape safety-standards to avert injured skiers' lawsuit claims;  and where outright-violation of basic Antitrust Laws — expressly, Restraint of Free Trade — are openly utilized in practice by the standards-writing-power-brokers.  Worse, unlike in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, there is no enforcement of the ASTM ski equipment standards in the US.  Rick watched first-hand as actions at the ASTM skiing standards meetings literally bankrupted a great rental binding for entry-level skiers (Spademan).  This was — and is — real hardball.  Irrespectively of these systemic flaws in the American standards development process, Rick gained much of his knowledge on biomechanics and ski binding function by attending and actively participating at these bi-annual 2-day meetings where leading research engineers, research physiologists, research orthopedic surgeons and epidemiologists presented their scientific research and pitched their persuasive arguments for related-standards — while at the same time seeing the realities of corporate hard-ball in play:  at the end of the day, the lawyers — all of whom have almost no science-background — largely drove the outcome of the so-called American skiing 'safety' standards.)

     At the same time in the mid-'70's, Rick owned a small ski-binding service center located near the finish-line of the FIS-homogulated 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, release-tested with the Vermont Release Calibrator and adjusted to special Howell-developed racing settings.  Rick's binding modifications combined together with his special 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-releases and no injuries — 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, technically.  Its success was sales-related due to a strong marketing campaign that was managed by Art Currier.  So, Rick began a double-major at NEC — in business — focused on marketing and market-research.

     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 with measurements by special lateral dynamic-impact tests in his labs at New England College, MIT, and Pat's Peak Ski Area. 

     Further at this time, from 1974 to '77, Rick co-developed together with Wolfhart Hauser, MD, of Munich, Germany and Dr-Eng Peter Biermann of Stüttgart, Germany — the 'DIN-System'utilized worldwide over the next 37 years, each year, by ~25-million skiers — including today.  This activity was pro bono by Hauser, Biermann & Howell, causing a major positive benefit for skiers, everywhere.

     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 to be one of the leading experts in ski bindings and while he was focused on his undergraduate engineering thesis — the bindings he was recreationally racing-on 'failed to function' as claimed by the manufacturer.  Rick lost a ski, skied off a cliff at 70 MPH and landed on a ledge — stomach first — rupturing his spleen.  This was life-threatening.  The operation to remove his spleen was a success — but this event was the last straw.  The binding was a Geze Olymp 76.  The test device was a Vermont Release Calibrator — that also broke the night before the race while testing others' bindings, precluding Rick from testing his own bindings.  The test report on the bindings in SKIING magazine was written by Carl Ettlinger (it reported erroneous information).  After a full month in the hospital on IV-fluids, losing almost 30-pounds and ending his ski racing — Rick Howell embarked all the way into his critical mission ...

     During the next 8 years — from 1978 to 1986, starting at age 25 — Rick was the North American Product Manager at Geze ski binding company (the products are now some of the 'features' within Look non-turntable bindings) while also becoming North American Director of Marketing at Geze during the last 4 of the 8-years.  Rick was presented with the Geze GmbH parent company's 'Glass Award' for successful business accomplishments.  (Geze GmbH is based near Stüttgart, Germany.)  The bindings became 'best rated' by Carl Ettlinger (4) of SKIING magazine and by Stuftung Warrentest of Germany.   Respectfully, the entire team at Geze — especially the German engineers — caused this improvement, not just Rick.  While Rick was Geze USA Director of Marketing, Geze ski bindings went from an unprofitable 2% market-share to a profitable 20% market-share within USA and Canada.  This profitability-success was due to the leadership of Geze-USA president, Tim Jamieson (Jamieson, a former bank-president in NYC — a finance-genius);  due to Rick's product and marketing management;  and due to the work of 20 independent sales reps.  That was a real team effort. 

Rick Howell, Geze USA Product Manager, 1981, utilizing a 'metallic-tibia surrogate-human' ASTM F-504 ski binding test device fabricated by Carl Ettlinger of Vermont Safety Research.

 

     At the request of Geze GmbH in Germany, 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 in Québec.  Rick's presentations spanned from 1978 to 1986, totaling 16 multi-day meetings in Québec.  Rick was able to perform this bi-annual activity for Raymond Lanctôt, Ltee by substituting each of his vacations from Geze-USA ... over the course of 8-years ... for the paid work.

 

 

Geze USA sales team in Montenegro, 1986 (Rick Howell, Geze Director of Marketing, 3rd from right with blue hat in front of Mike Adams;  Roland Böhme is 7th from left).  The complete group, 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, Bill Ehmke, Mark Sweeney.   Photo by Tim Jamieson, president of ELAN - Geze USA.

 

    ( A few years after Rick left Geze in 1986, the ski-binding division of Geze GmbH was successfully sold in 1993 to Abel (Swiss watch company);  the next year, Abel sold the Geze ski-binding unit to Group Bernard Tapie.  Shortly after, the French government seized, then sold, Tapie's ski-binding assets (Look and Geze) to Rossignol SA.  Today, Geze GmbH has 390-million Euros of annual revenue and employs 2,800 people in the architectural building-hardware business.  Geze is the largest producer of architectural door and window hardware in Europe.  Geze is an outstanding German mittlestand company.)

 

     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, manage the manufacturing, and distribute what became the world's 1st hands-off clipless bicycle pedals, CycleBinding creating the category of hands-off clipless bicycle pedals  (Howell-inventor, US Utility Patents 4,640,151;  4,803,894;  and other foreign patents).  In 1989, CycleBinding, Inc. was sold to Shelburne Corporation of Shelburne, Vermont.   Over 1-million pair of hands-off clipless bicycle pedals are sold per year — including today.

Rick Howell, inventor, founder and professional manager of CycleBinding — world's 1st hands-off clipless bicycle pedal system (2-years before Look), winner of BICYCLING, OUTSIDE and VELONEWS magazine road tests, 1983, '84, '85 (graphics by Michael and Gio Jager;  body-copy by Charles Harding;  machining by Tom Drake).  Utilized by Scott Molina to win 25 consecutive USTS triathlons and by John Howard to set 3 still-standing bicycling 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. 'Blessings are sent to everyone involved in this great project.

 

     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 products, during each of the past 24 consecutive years, have been worldwide #1 selling, including today  (Howell-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.  This project is a triple home-run.

 

     All during these developments and over the past 28-years, Rick lived and skied with his son and daughter in Stowe, Vermont where he continued to modify special ACL-friendly ski-bindings that he developed to also not pre-release during aggressive on-slope skiing at Stowe Mountain Resort. 

Rick Howell at Stowe Mountain Resort, Stowe, Vermont, 2015.

 

     In the Spring of 2016, Rick Howell presented the 1st scientifically-recognized (peer-reviewed) biomechanical-validation of his ACL-friendly Howell SkiBinding technology utilizing biomechanically-correct, metallic-surrogates in over 10,000 lab-tests.  His pro bono research was presentated at the 35th SITEMSH skiing safety conference in Inawashiro, Japan ((session-moderator, Aleix Vidal, MD, Chief Surgeon, Centro Médico Teknon Hospital, Barcelona, Spain (not the soccer player));  and 2 research presentations were given at the 17th ESSKA orthopedic research conference in Barcelona, Spain  (one session-moderator, Professor Suzanne Werner, PhD, of Karolinska Institute Medical School, Stockholm, Sweden;  the other session-moderator;  Aleix Vidal, MD, Chief Surgeon, Centro Médico Teknon Hospital, Barcelona, Spain (not the soccer player)).  First, the epidemiological basis for the research:

     ACL-ruptures are, by far, the most frequent worldwide injury in skiing (followed closely by MCL injuries):  ~50,000 skiing-ACL injuries per year, worldwide.  This frequency of skiing-ACL injuries has been on-going for decades, though recently the incidence (not 'incidents') is declining slightly (it's still, by far, the most frequent injury in skiing, today)ACL-replacement surgery costs between US$20,000 to US$50,000 for diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation, not including the cost of early arthritis, loss of income, loss of athletic performance, and pain.  ACL-ruptures are also severe.  Even highly rehabilitated World Cup ski racers who have sustained skiing-ACL-rupture never return to their full-athletic potential.  Many skiers who have successfully undergone proper ACL-rehabilitation develop clinical osteoarthritis beginning ~5-years after ACL-rehab.  If every ACL-injured skier elected to replace their ruptured ACL, this scenario = $2.5-billion per year.  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 (taxes).  Over the years, skiing ACL injuries have amounted to a total accumulated cost of over $20-billion.  'A serious problem, indeed.  

 

     This is a problem that Rick Howell can solve.  Interestingly, the solution is derived by 'Inverse Statics' — utilizing 'ordinary 2-mode' ski bindings to amplify / highlight ' identify the root of the problem ... the 'Sour Spot'.   How interestingly ironic !!

 

     The field of injury prevention focuses on the analysis of the 'frequency of injuries' AND the 'severity of injuries'.  ACL-ruptures are both frequent and severe. 

     Here's the theoretical prevalence of the main injury-mechanisms that cause skiing-ACL-ruptures (90% of skiing ACL-injuries are complete, Grade-III, ruptures):

Here above is the theoretical epidemiological prevalence-distribution of skiing ACL-injury mechanisms that plausibly point the association of 'valgus-dominant' loading and skiing ACL-rupture — though this prevalence-distribution is considered 'conjecture' according to proper scientific practice, today.  No one knows the exact prevalence of each type of skiing ACL-injury mechanism.   Huge intellectual effort has been applied toward the issue of identifying skiing-ACL injury-mechanisms (see the many research papers of Tron Krosshaug, PhD and Tone Bere, PhD on the theoretical identification of ACL-injury mechanisms:  Oslo Sports Trauma Center in Oslo, Norway:  PubMed).  However — and respectfully to the great research conducted by Tron and Tonethe actual epidemiological prevalence and incidence of each type of skiing-ACL injury-mechanism remains formally-undocumented, scientifically, today.  Therefore, utilizing an approach first conceived for structural failure analysis by Case Western Reserve University's former Biomechanical Engineering Professor, Eugene Bahniuk, PhD (D), a full 3D-spectrum of loading conditions (an 'envelope') can be produced to determine which set of loading conditions cause ACL-rupture — to bypass the conjecture surrounding other ad hoc methods that attempt to identify skiing-ACL-rupture — as follows ...

 

If valgus-related loading is the dominant injury-mechanism in skiing, here (please see below graph) are in computo combinations of valgus-moments and tibia-torques that — together — are the dominant causation of ACL-rupture for an average US male (shown relative to tibia-fracture — black line is tibia fracture) depending upon where the applied-load enters the ski.  All applied-loads are 'quasi-static' (slowly applied) — as opposed to 'dynamic' — because ligaments are visco-elastic in terms of their structural properties ... meaning that the worse-case scenario is 'quasi-static':

No bindings are involved in the above graph:  these are the biomechanical limits of (a) torsional tibia-fracture —without Wolff's Law — short black line;  and (b) ACL-rupture (as a function of where an applied lateral force enters the medial edge of a ski aft of the projected axis of the tibia) for an average U.S. male under the scenario of 'no-release' AND as a function of the combination of both 'tibia-torque at ACL-rupture' (red line) and 'valgus-moment at ACL-rupture' (green line) for any given-central-position of applied abduction force (the magnitude of the applied-abduction force is not shown in the above graph — please see the next graph for the magnitude of the applied-abduction-force that causes the tibia-torques and valgus-moments at ACL-rupture).  (Wolff's Law does not apply to ligaments — it applies only to bones.) 

 

     'Ski binding toes and heels are force-imparting mechanisms that read and react to force-limits ... and there's a singular applied-abduction-force for each unique combination of resultant tibia-torque-at-ACL-rupture and valgus-moment-at-ACL-rupture (together) for any given position at which a central-applied-abduction-force enters the ski.  (A 'central-applied-force' — a 'centroid' — is the singular force-vector that's produced by several forces entering a ski at any one given time.)  Therefore, it's possible to convert and quantify the theoretical vector-based tibia-torques and theoretical vector-based valgus-moments into common, theoretical, scalar-based  biomechanical abduction-force limits and into peak ski binding lateral-force at release as a function of the position of the central-applied-abduction-force that's applied to a ski — to find the 'Sour Spot' (the loading condition) that causes ACL-rupture.  As can be seen above, central-applied-abduction-forces that enter a ski between 10cm to 55cm behind the projected axis of the tibia, cause ACL-rupture 'before' torsional tibia-fracture.  This finding is a major biomechanical breakthrough.

Now, the question is — how do ski bindings behave relative to these biomechanical limits?

Bindings read and react to force-vectors, not to combined sub-sets of valgus-moments and tibia-torques.  Therefore, by recognizing that there is a singular/unique force-vector associated with each combination of valgus-moments and tibia-torques at ACL-rupture, ski bindings behave as noted, below:

The 2 thin blue lines form the full, 2D performance-envelope for all ordinary 2-mode alpine ski bindings.  ('2-mode' = lateral at the toe and vertical at the heel.)  Other bindings with 'so-called pivot-turntables' (not shown) are worse than ordinary 2-mode bindings because no ski boot can release, laterally, through the side-lugs of a pivot-turntable.  Other bindings with 'so-called diagonal heel release' (also not shown above) generate the same performance-envelope as ordinary 2-mode bindings (above) because ACL-rupture also involve rear-weighting ... which scenario cannot cause 'diagonal heel release', because 'diagonal heel release' requires lateral-abduction force plus upward-heel loading. Upward heel loading is diametrically opposite of rear-weighting.  Diagonal heel release cannot provide release in the presence of rear-weighting that is one of 3 principle applied-force-vectors that's associated with skiing ACL-rupture (the 3 principle force-vectors that are combined together to produce skiing-ACL-rupture are, in order of magnitude:  rear-weighting, valgus-moment, tibia-torque).  The thin black line, above (taken as 'one black line' connecting together on each side of the tibia axis) forms the full 2D performance-envelope for the new, non-pre-releasing 3-mode Howell SkiBindings — with non-pre-releasing lateral heel release.  The anomaly that is generated in the envelopes, above, is the theoretical rupture of the ACL (remove all of the orange — and the remaining red-graph would be nearly symmetric).  Then, as can be seen in the above graph, Howell SkiBindings are tuned to operate in the 'white space' — below tibia-fracture, below theoretical ACL-rupture, and above pre-release.

 

Rick Howell's pro bono research presentations are met with enthusiasm by most of the physics-oriented orthopedic surgeons, physiologists, and epidemiologists — but not by Rick Howell's ski binding competitors and not by the researchers who are directly or indirectly subsidized by the other binding companies.  There are several researchers who are effected in this way:  they are threatened by the real possibility that these discoveries by will adversely impact their income from the other binding companies who are shipping ACL-injuring ski bindings.  At ESSKA-Barcelona, 3 leaders in the field stood — including Peter Brucker, MD, a German national ski team physician— to signal strong enthusiasm toward Rick Howell's research (above).  Receiving this kind of enthusiasm at scientific forums is unprecedented — and welcomed.

 

Howell's 'metallic-valgus surrogate-2' utilized to test the function of ACL-friendy ski bindings without exposing humans.  (Calibration of the metallic-surrogate, above, is being conducted without a boot-sole and without bindings.)

 

"Nothing seems to go wrong with Rick's ski binding testing for ACL integrity because his test equipment is so simple."       
      — a leading researcher in biomechanical engineering and sports science.

 

 

             Here are links (select one link) to two video presentations by Rick Howell at the ESSKA conference in Barcelona, Spain in May, 2016 (6).  Please note, biomechanical-validation is not epidemiological-validation:  there is no prospective intervention study, yet.  A small fee of US$9.99 defrays some of the research expense:

                      for Apple iPhone via Apple iTunes:  [https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/acl-injury-thresholds-ski/id1106644894?ls=1&mt=8]

                               OR

                      for Android-based mobile via Google Play:  [https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.retrieve.paid_retrieve_prod_3470]

    

     On October 11, 2016, Rick Howell was granted U.S. Utility Patent 9,463,370 that uniquely allows low stand-height in an unpatented (open) version of an alpine ski binding with non-pre-releasing lateral-heel release (3-modes).

Howell US Utility Patent 9,463,370, October 11, 2016, claimed in Howell SkiBindings.

 

"Rick Howell is the foremost ski binding engineer in the world."
        —Chris Brown, PhD, PE, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, WPI, former NCAA All-American ski racer, University of Vermont.

 

 

       

     On March 17, 2017, Rick Howell presented his latest pro bono research at the International Olympic Committee conference on Sports Injury Prevention in Monte Carlo, 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' — 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

 

 


Rick Howell (left) and University of Innsbruck, Sports Science Prof. Werner Nachbauer, PhD (former Austrian Ski Team member) at the top of Sölden, Austria in the Gourmetrestaurant Ice Q during the 22nd ISSS Conference in Innsbruck, Austria, April 20, 2017.   The skiing was fantastic!

 

     On April 22, 2017, Rick Howell presented similar pro bono research at the International Society for Skiing Safety (ISSS) conference in Innsbruck, Austria — hosted by University of Innsbruck — under the session-moderation of University of Munich Professor Veit Senner:  "Theoretical ACL Integrity with Ski Bindings".

 

       "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 appropriately designed, manufactured and adjusted ski bindings. 

 

 

 

     On May 15, 2017, Vermont Superior Court issued a 'Final Judgment (Amended)' in an 8-year, nearly-full-time, litigation matter — ruling that 'Rick Howell was in contempt of court and defamed the other ski binding company he founded in 2006 for his attempts in 2009 to stop the flow of defective ski bindings into the market.  The defective bindings (a correct 'fact' previously-found by the court) were shipped into the stream of commerce by others who, earlier in 2007, squeezed-out Rick in 2008 [paraphrased] from that other ski binding company before that other binding design was completed by Rick.  The contempt ruling is because, Rick Howell — to insure the mitigation of injury to his customers — respectfully picketed in front of the Vermont Superior Courthouse against the (now court-voided) injunction and against the court's now-factually-confirmed defective bindings to protect his customersRespectfully — does this make any sense?  How wrong is this judgment?   The Good News:  ALL of the bogus contract claims that were filed against Rick Howell — and the wrongful 8-year injunction — were squashed by court.  This is great news.   This legal effort cost Rick Howell 8-years of nearly full-time activity and $1,500,000 in paid legal fees and business opportunity losses, not to mention other monetary and non-monetary losses.  Of course, the contempt and the defamation aspects of that judgment are now being appealed at the Vermont Supreme Court — because Rick Howell will never allow any court to rule that it was wrong to protect his customers from being exposed to defective ski bindings and because Rick Howell will never allow any court to find him in contempt and/or causing defamation for attempting to stop the flow of known-defective ski bindings into any stream of commerce.  Upholding public safety is an established-exception to the collateral bar rule (exception to court Orders).  The court's ruling on contempt and defamation suggests — in opposition to current public policy such as with Takata air bags, New England Compounding pharmaceuticals, GM ignition switches;  and in opposition of controlling case law in United States of America v. OtisMed — that Rick Howell should have remained silent about the known defective bindings that were incorrectly modified by others, that failed minimum international safety standards, and that were knowingly and wrongly shipped into the stream of commerce by the same-others.  How outrageous!  Further to this litigation-folly, all of this happened after Rick Howell was wrongly squeezed-out of the other binding company;  after the others who took over the company modified the bindings;  after the bindings failed minimum international safety standards (2-years earlier, Rick Howell's prototypes received the highest / best test scores — in the history of ski bindings — at the world's only independent ski binding test lab in Munich, Germany);  and after Rick went about attempting to stop the flow of the defective bindings through the use of formal, legally-correct venues.  The defamation ruling is also in opposition to long-standing public policy regarding Tylenol:  it was right and just for Tylenol to apply swift and thorough actions to expunge their tampered-pills from the marketplace.  Tylenol's parent company's valuation soared as a direct consequence of their own actions to immediately conduct a massive self-administered recall.  Rick Howell knew this positive-valuation-effect from his own professional management work at Geze when he successfully co-managed 2 large recalls of Geze ski bindings:  Geze sales soared as a direct consequence of Geze's responsible actions to impose fast and broad-ranging recalls.  There is no defamation when recalls are necessary:  in fact, the Tylenol case and the Geze experience proves the opposite:  business success soars when responsible actions are implemented swiftly and decisively.

    Today, Rick Howell continues to own at least ~34% of the other binding company and hopefully will own ~94% (with no liabilities) after a successful appeal at the Vermont Supreme Court.  Rick remains confident of a successful appeal on the contempt and defamation issues — and Rick remains confident of preserving his currently-favorable standing in the legal victory over the bogus contract claims that were filed against him 8-years ago that are now defeated (ALL contract claims against Rick Howell are defeated).  And Rick remains confident that the wrongful injunction will remain expunged.

 

Vermont Superior Court, Lamoille County, Judge Alden Bryan presiding.

 

     To successfully prosecute the appeal, Rick is offering a 10-time return in 5-years in exchange for $200,000 at this time.  The timing for this funding is at this time because Rick's lawyers can no longer function on contingency as they have functioned during the past 2-years during the final phases of the lower-court litigation.  The necessary $200,000 must be fully in place at this time.  Participation in this funding and its related-offer can be consummated by contacting Rick Howell by email:  rick.howell@howellskibindings.com;  by cell-phone at  802.793.4849;  or by a direct meeting in Stowe, Vermont.  This funding effort is bona fide and imperative at this time for Rick Howell's ski binding mission — now Howell SkiBindings — to continue forward with positive sustained success. 

     More Good News:   New Howell SkiBindings are not any other ski bindings.  Howell SkiBindings are uncompromised gems that will be certified in Germany to the latest DIN/ISO standards — ISO 9462, ISO 9465, ISO 11087and will also positively exceed 'Standard Industry Practice' for on-snow durability and on-snow anti-pre-release (these are additional unpublished self-imposed industry standards that are implimented after meeting all of the above ISO standards) — prior to shipment into the stream of commerce.  Howell SkiBindings will never become compromised by others.  Howell SkiBindings are also — above and beyond the DIN / ISO and industry standards — ACL-friendly, without side-effects.

     Clearly, Howell SkiBindings are not like any other ski bindings. 

 

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     Rick Howell has parlayed his business and engineering education;  ski racing background;  professional marketing, manufacturing and distribution management experience;  long and repeated history of consumer product development success;  specialty ski-binding engineering know-how;  newly-patented intellectual property;  pro bono scientific research on the validation of the ACL-friendly function;  and freshly-tested positive legal outcome (on the contracts) — to introduce new Howell SkiBindings

 

     It was inevitable.

 

     New Howell 880 Pro — delivers powerful anti-pre-release.  Never-before-seen edge-control.  Liteness.  Durability.  17mm low stand-height.  'And a 3rd-mode of lateral heel release to provide ACL-friendly skiing.

 

    Finally.

 


"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, worldwide leading epidemiologist in skiing safety.

 

    New Howell SkiBindings will be ready for shipment October, 2018.   A 30% discount on the full-price and free shipping* is provided when reservation-deposits are placed now.  Reservation deposits are $100 for the Howell 800 Venus;  $200 for the Howell 880 Pro;  and $400 for the Howell 888 WC Racing. 

    To review the full-net-prices and to place a reservation-deposit now, select the 'Catalog' page from the menu.  Select the model that's right for you.  Click the arrow on the right side of the 'Payment Options' drag-down-box to reveal the Reservation Deposit price.  Continue to consummate the pre-order.  The final remaining balance will be invoiced during October, 2018.

 

    Anti-pre-release.  ACL-friendly.
  FLAT-OUT SKIING CONFIDENCE.

 

           Howell Ski Bindings
              It was inevitable.

 

PO Box 1274,  79A Mansfield View Road,  Stowe, Vermont  05672  USA
rick.howell@howellskibindings.com      1.802.793.4849

 


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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 1968, '69 and '70. 

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 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);  and ISSS-Innsbruck, Austria (2017).   (It's also plausible that Howell SkiBindings, properly tuned as shown in the above performance-envelope, might mitigate MCL-rupture, too — but significantly more research is needed to validate the interaction between Howell SkiBindings and MCL-rupture mitigation.)

'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).

 

 


Copyright © 2017 by Rick Howell and Howell Ski Bindings.   All rights reserved.

U.S. Patent 9,463,370 and other national and international patents are pending.

'Howell SkiBindings', 'Howell 888 WC Racing', 'Howell 880 Pro', 'Howell 800 Venus', 'It was inevitable.' are Service Marks (sm).

 

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Howell SkiBindings company is against (a) ski waist widths greater than 87mm  AND  (b) all 'pin-binding's' (except new Trab TR2) — due to (a.i) their association with a new type of skiing-injury:  severe, high-energy tibia-plateau fractures, severe tibial-tuberosity fractures, cumulative miniscus-damage, and MCL-rupture;  and (b.i) due to high-energy, spiral-tiba-fractures.  Both new types of skiing injuries are the fastest-growing categories of injuries in skiing — matching the growth of fat-skis and pin-bindings.  The high-energy nature of the new types of skiing fractures involve many 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 the new Trab TR2)) — are a serious problem for the sustainability of our beautiful sport:  the ISO standards on pin-bindings are knowingly wrong:  they are about money;  political-engineering;  patent portfolios;  and must be immediately changed to reflect human-biomechanics, not just manufacturing-tolerances.   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.

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*US$20 is automatically added to international Reservation Deposits at the time of placing a pre-order to address the additional cost of international shipments, which added-cost nulls 'Free Shipping' for international pre-orders, but which adder remains well below actual international shipping expense.