As I write, Kevin is out in Canmore at the Salomon Nordic launch of their new Prolink system, which is creating quite a buzz in the nordic world. It looks like he's having more fun than I am.
So why all the hype about Prolink? There has for decades been a rift between the two major binding systems, SNS and NNN (more information on binding systems in this blog post). If you were on one system you were channeled into buying equipment from certain companies compatible with that system. It was also confusing to new buyers who didn't know which system to choose.
Now Salomon offers skiers a choice of boots and bindings. They are continuing to sell SNS bindings and boots but have added their Prolink binding to the lineup, which is compatible with boots that currently fit NNN. They are also making all of their boots in both an SNS and a Prolink sole. The boots will be exactly the same except for the outsole.
So if you happen to be on NNN, you can now get yourself into a Salomon boot.
According to Salomon, the major difference between the SNS and the Prolink binding is the amount of control and snow feel.
The SNS system retains a loyal following of skiers who like the feeling of control they get between boot and ski. Excellent for step-turning and skiing in icy conditions, this system has a tight, stable feeling and a quick ski return. You stand taller on the ski due to the thicker sole and higher sole profile.
The Prolink system has been described as "low, light and powerful" and emphasizes a heightened sense of the snow you're skiing on. The boot soles are slightly more flexible, thinner, and have a lower profile than SNS soles so you stand lower on the ski. The bindings themselves have the same drill pattern as SNS and are direct mount as well, which means they have a thinner profile on the ski than NNN bindings mounted on NIS plates. With this system you get a great snow feel and can respond to terrain and snow with more subtlety.
So far, testers seem impressed with the Prolink system, especially for classic skiing, flats, and climbing. It's already on the World Cup circuit, but won't be available til next season for regular consumers.
There has been some upset on Rottefella's end and some threatened litigation. However since patents expired years ago Salomon is well within their rights and has actually taken more time than needed to take advantage of the available technology, which is seen as benefiting the consumer more than anyone else.
It will be interesting to see how this new system bridges the gap between SNS and NNN. Will Salomon finally crack into the Norwegian market? Will we see the development of one universal system, such as in the alpine world?
Only time will tell how this ultimately affects the nordic global community, and what we can expect to see on the market in the next few years.
~ Note: this post was written in 2016.