Kris Freeman on Rottefella MOVE Bindings

Amy wanted me to demonstrate the way the MOVE system works. This is me demonstrating for the camera. I'm a natural; right?
This silly picture is from our first test of the MOVE bindings, back in October of 2017 on saved snow in Sjusjoen.

This season Rottefella released their MOVE bindings – a system that allows skiers to adjust the position of the binding on the ski without taking the skis off; with a little practice and coordination, you can even adjust the position on the fly. The purpose is simple – with the bindings positioned forward and high on the camber the skier has better access to kick, while a position further behind the high point of the camber will optimize the running speed. The MOVE system has been primarily market for use on skin-skis, where binding position is the only means the skier has of adjusting the kick/glide balance of the skis. But it’s been clear that there was a possibility to find advantage using the MOVE system on waxable classic skis as well. For the recent Craftsbury Marathon, Kris Freeman asked us to put MOVE bindings on his favorite hardwax skis. The system is designed and intended for classic skis, and while it can be mounted on skate skis, there isn’t any discernable benefit to on-the-fly position adjustment on skate skis.

The MOVE system is available in several different versions. The new NIS 2.0 plate is designed specifically to work with the MOVE binding system. To take advantage of that opportunity you need to purchase a $119 “Move Switch Kit”, and you also need to purchase bindings to use with the MOVE switch. The good news is that pretty much any NIS binding will work with the kit.

Rottefella has also produced three versions of the MOVE binding to work with other plate systems. There is a version for the original NIS 1.0 plate, a version for the new Fischer/Rossignol IFP plate, and a version for Rottefella’s screw-on “Rottefella Mounting Plate”, which utilized the Salomon screw pattern, and will work with any flat-top ski. These three versions all sell for $150, and the package includes an integrated binding, along with a MOVE switch that is molded specifically to fit against the front of the selected mounting plate. The MOVE switch is be permanently bonded to the top-sheet of the ski using industrial-strength adhesive (all required parts are included in the kit). It is necessary to have a flat top-sheet surface for about 10cm in front of the existing plate, so many Madshus classic skis are not compatible since they have a 3D topsheet surface.

The MOVE system is well designed and highly functional. The pricing on the Move Switch Kit for the NIS 2.0 plate is mind-blowingly insulting, considering it doesn’t include bindings. But that’s nothing new from Rottefella, and it’s pretty much the only complaint we have with the system. Which really begs the question of benefit; is it worthwhile having on-the-fly adjustability?

When Kris asked us to put the MOVE bindings onto his skis, we figured it was an opportunity to get some real-world competition feedback. Here’s his report:

fullsizeoutput_d4By Kris Freeman
The last time I competed in the Craftsbury Marathon was in 2017 and the conditions were funky. Warm weather had melted the base snow before a short storm dropped two inches of fresh powder on top. The mixture of wet and dry snow created a suction between the ski base and the tracks. Kick wax made the suction far worse and I estimated that it slowed the skis by about 10%. Normally I would estimate that a good kick wax application would slow skis somewhere from half a percent to two percent. I decided to double pole the race on skate skis and I quite literally glided away from the competition on the first major downhill.

Yesterday I raced Craftsbury with absolutely perfect snow conditions. The snow was crisp and dry and almost any shade of green hardwax got the job done. The glide penalty for applying kick wax was so small that double poling was clearly a slower choice. However the marathon course was three laps of a 16.5k loop that broke into three distinct sections. The first 5k was flat, the second 5k climbed and third 5k descended. Basically from 11k to 21k and 32k to 42k I would be double poling 95% of the terrain.

From playing with the binding position on my NIS and Turnamic plated skis, I knew that sliding my binding back behind the balance point unweighted my kick zone increasing my glide while making kick less accessible. Conversely, sliding the binding to center or in front of center slowed my skis but gave me better kick. Given that I knew I would be racing a course that broke into clear sections of terrain I wanted to see if adjusting my bindings back and forth during the race would be faster that a fixed position.

Rottefella launched the MOVE adjustment system this season. Move allows the user to slide the binding on the ski by turning a dial in front of the toe clasp. Adjustments are made in 1cm increments and can be used to move the binding 1cm in front of or 2cm in back of the balance point of the ski. By reaching down to the dial I could move the binding while gliding downhill. Adjusting while in motion is awkward and I found that my dominant right hand was far better at turning the dial than my left. So after initially trying to adjust both bindings at the same time I ended up changing the position on the skis one at a time with my right hand. To be fair yesterday was the first time I had used the setup and I know I would become more adept at the process with practice.

IMG_6817I started the race with my MOVE binding adjusted to 1cm behind balance point. I double poled the first 5k and then started striding up the next 5k rolling ascent with my bindings in the same position. I don’t like the feel of striding behind balance point as I feel like I have to “pull” my kick under me rather than just stepping on top of the kick zone, but this was the happy medium position for the first 10k.   When I got to the high point of the course I reached down and adjusted my bindings to -2cm. My kick zone became almost entirely unweighted and my glide was much freer. I kept the bindings there until I reached the low point of the course 10ks later and then moved my binding forward 2cm to balance point. I was actually a little shocked how slow my skis felt with the bindings in a neutral position but my kick was suddenly very accessible and after 25ks of racing this was very welcome. I made the same adjustments to my bindings on the final lap and won the race by just shy of 18 minutes.

IMG_6941The MOVE system can definitely be used to increase efficiency in a race but the advantage that can be gleaned will be very individual. I know that a lot of people (including my father) who raced yesterday probably read my description of the course and are scratching their heads wondering what I am talking about. As a longtime world cup racer my perception of what is double polable and what constitutes a difficult hill is much different than a the average weekend warrior. Each adjustment that I made to my bindings took energy and probably cost about 5 seconds of time. This penalty was well worth the efficiency I gained over long portions of terrain but would be less applicable to difficult varied terrain over a short distance. As I made my adjustments my poles also splayed to the side of the trail which would be very awkward in a pack of racers and would risk broken poles.

However, there is virtually no weight penalty.  Even if you never decide to adjust the binding in a race you won’t lose anything by having the option. The MOVE could be used just once in a shorter race to adjust for too much or not enough kick wax. It would also be nice on a training day when kick wax wears thin and you don’t feel like reapplying to get back to the lodge. A few turns forward on the bindings and you could be good to go. I have only used the system for one day but so far I only see benefits.