As the backcountry segment of our sport continues its steady growth, skiers are constantly looking for innovative tools to further their exploration in the mountains. The SI&I system from Cast Touring certainly falls into that category, with an original concept that the founders believe will deliver the best of both worlds: uphill and downhill. The system has been in development for over three years and a Kickstarter campaign has been launched in an effort to fund the initial production run.
Founder and President, Lars Chickering-Ayers, is not a man of many words. He grew up in Vermont, honing his technique on the hills of Mad River Glen. Should you run into him at the corner store, his polite and quiet demeanor would lead you to believe he’s just an average Joe. Little would you know about his success in the world of freeskiing—most recently, winning stage four of the Freeride World Tour in Kirkwood, CA.
Lars and his childhood friend, the late Ryan Hawks, came up with the new binding concept a number of years ago. “CAST’s product line stemmed from a desire for better equipment and the fact that none of the current touring bindings on the market met our needs,” says Chickering-Ayers. They wanted a technical and proficient way to get up the hill as well as a performance binding that they could trust for aggressively navigating their way back down. The two competitors toured the freeskiing circuit while using and fine-tuning their new creation.
Sadly, a tragic ski accident in 2011 took Hawks’ life and shook the freeskiing world and that of Lars himself. The following year, Lars took a break from competing to focus on the new venture, dubbed CAST Touring. The name is derived from the collective noun for a group of hawks in honor of Ryan’s spirit as well as others who’ve died in the mountains. Lars is not alone on the project though. The SI&I touring system is currently being developed with the help of his brother, Silas Chikering-Ayers and friend Matt Cherouny.
Left: Lars after his winning run in Kirkwood. Right: A tough day of testing for Silas.
Silas, who is also a respected competitor on the Freeride World Tour, serves as head tester for the company. After brother Lars stood on the podium in Kirkwood this past February, Silas kept the Chikering-Ayers name on top with a win in Fieberbrunn, Austria, just a week later. Both proudly displayed the SI&I setup as they accepted their novelty checks.
Cherouny also grew up in Vermont and worked as an engineer for a number of years before joining the CAST team. Recruited by Lars in early 2012, he now lives in Driggs, ID, where the company is headquartered, and serves as Vice President and Lead Engineer.
The SI&I System
The main idea behind the SI&I system is that it allows you to swap toe pieces out in order to use a tech toe piece (i.e. Dynafit) on the ascent and an alpine toe piece on the descent. A lightweight, CNC-machined aluminum plate is mounted to your ski and slider plates are attached to each toe piece. Just slip the appropriate toe into place and use the slide lock mechanism to secure it. An integrated heel lifter goes underneath the heel of your alpine binding and offers climbing bales of two different heights in addition to a flat stance. The setup adds 250g per binding when your alpine toe is in place (-142g w/Dynafit) and +7mm stand height.
The CAST team will also modify your hard-soled boot of choice to make it compatible with the system. They have developed custom boot lifters with rubber treads and integrated tech fittings that attach to the sole of your boot. Once converted, your boot will function properly in alpine and tech bindings while still conforming to international boot safety standards.
The Kickstarter campaign is running through Saturday, April 27th and has already passed the halfway point of the $50,000 goal. Pledges range from $5, which gets you a sticker, to $5,000+ which gets you a full binding setup and a five day guided backcountry trip for two in the Tetons. A pledge of $275 will secure your own SI&I system.
CAST SI&I Alpine Touring Binding
– Weight difference to standard Alpine Binding:
- While skiing: 250g
- While touring: -142g (yes 142g lighter than your standard alpine setup)
– No lifted weight while touring, touring efficiency equals that of a tech touring system
– Increase in stand height: 7mm
Bindings currently compatible with the SI&I System:
– Tyrolia Peak T. H. 15
– Tyrolia X T. H. 18
– 4FRNT Deadbolt 15 and 18
– Head Mojo 15 and 18
– Rossignol FKS 15 and 18
– Look Pivot 15 and 18
– Salomon STH Driver 12, 14 and 16
– Salomon STH 12 and 14
– Atomic FFG Team
– Marker Jester Pro
– Marker Jester
– Marker Griffon
– Marker Squire