Miller fills need for releasable bindings
A quiet storm of controversy has erupted recently within the snowboarding industry.
One man, Matthew Miller, has emerged in it’s center in the wake of two recent lawsuits – one against Burton Snowboards that was settled this week, and one which is pending against GNU.
Miller is the CEO of Miller Snowboards, the only company in the United States that manufactures releasable bindings.
The two lawsuits maintain that Burton and GNU were negligent in making snowboards with bindings that do not release. In each case a snowboader fell into a tree well and died when they were unable to climb extricate themselves.
Miller said they would have been able to win their way free if their boards had not weighed them down.
“They all keep ignoring the problem and hoping the people who get hurt don’t whine too much,” he said. “They aren’t doing anything.”
Ski bindings have long been designed to release skiers’ boots in a fall, while snowboard bindings have almost exclusively designed to release only when they are unbuckled by the snowboarder. Recently step-in binding, which release when a boarder is standing still, have become available, but they do not release during a fall.
The use of releasable bindings will revolutionize the industry, according to Miller, and dramatically reduce the number of serious injuries and deaths, which occur each year.
“This will bring down injuries, bring down medical costs, and it will get the lawyer the hell out of our profession,” Miller, a lawyer himself, said.
He has accused the snowboard industry of purposely trying to keep releasable bindings off the market and said the attitude of most people in the industry is callous toward injury.
“‘Good boarders like us don’t want releasable bindings’ they say,” Miller said. “What about all the rest of us?”
Despite his vocal position, and the fact that his father also invented the first releasable binding for skis, most people remain speculative about his product.
“Why is this company that makes releasable bindings not being taken seriously? I don’t know.” Jimmy Lawrence, of Heavenly Ski Resort, said. “It is a technology that will eventually be affordable and that works.”
“They don’t instill confidence even to look at,” said Bob Daly, owner of two South Shore snowboard shops. “No one has followed Miller in that direction.”
Professional snowboarder Nick Kruger agreed.
“I would be way bummed to see releasable bindings,” he said. “If you fall you get a lot of bruising but you don’t have a lot of ACL tears or hyperextensions because you are stuck where you ‘re at.”
Despite losing a close friend in 1998 when fell into a tree well and died, Kruger said he will never use releasable bindings.
Most people are not aware Miller’s bindings exist.
“There are bindings that release automatically? They make those?” asked Micah Ramsey of Oxnard Calif.
Miller said it is because they cannot compete with Burton and other snowboarders ability to advertise.
“Snowboarding in an image driven industry, an image driven sport,” he said. “What we are saying is snowboard today walk tomorrow.”
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