Choosing the Right Race Skis – Part 3: Get the Most Out of Your Equipment

When you’ve arrived on your skis and they’re out of the box, then what? Theoretically, there is nothing else you have to do but go ski and tear up the trails. However, there are still a few more tricks in the box that help you get even more from your skis.

The NIS plate on which your bindings are mounted allows you to adjust the position of your bindings. Moving them backward and forward will alter the properties of the skis. In general, start skiing with the binding in the neutral position, marked as 0 on the NIS plate. “This is the point where your skis were measured and your kick zones for classic skis were determined based on this position,” says Bjørn Ivar Austrem, who is the Global Category Manager for Skis at Madshus.

The NIS plate allows users to adjust the ski by moving the binding forward or backward on the ski.

The binding can be moved 3 steps backward or forward, using the NIS key that came with the binding box. Adjusting the binding will slightly alter the ski’s properties, and in reality give you the benefit of having several pairs of skis in the same pair. Depending on whether its skate or classic skis, the ski will perform slightly different, but the principle remains the same.

NIS on classic skis: “Moving the binding backward on a classic ski will increase the glide, because you will sit slightly higher on the flex curve of the ski,”Austrem explains.

Accordingly, moving the binding forward on the classic ski will increase the grip. Using this opportunity, you can move the binding back in a flatter race with lots of double-poling terrain where glide is more important overall than monster kick. And for a hilly race with lots of long climbs, you might want to move the binding forward for better kick, and being able to get away with a slightly colder kick wax (which also improves glide in flatter sections of the course).

“Don’t be afraid to experiment with different positions and see how the ski performs for you,”Austrem suggests.

NIS on skate skis: On skate skis, the NIS binding principle is the same, but because of the ski and flex construction, the effects of moving the binding forward/backward is slightly different. If you move the binding back, the skis will feel like they accelerate faster, they ski easier from standstill to race pace. This might be a benefit on hillier courses with lots of transitions. Moving the binding forward is the opposite. It might feel harder to get the skis “up to speed,” but you’ll reach a higher max speed.

“You can think of the NIS binding steps as the gears on your car: Moving the binding backward is like using your lower gears, moving the binding forward is like going into overdrive,” Austrem explains.

And finally, you can adjust for different snow conditions. Moving the binding back in soft conditions gives you a little extra tip float. Moving the binding forward in icy or hard packed conditions will add a little more pressure to the tip and give you a more edge and control.

More on choosing the right race skis
Part 1: Construction, materials and what’s right for me
Part 2: Flex and Splay