Lars Chickering-Ayers, who placed second overall on last year's Subaru Freeskiing World Tour and won the Chilean stop of the FWT this summer, has chosen not to continue competing on the FWT this coming winter. "This year, I really want to explore new places and mountains and document our travels," Chickering-Ayers said.
Last year, Chickering-Ayers' close friend and Green Mountain Freeride teammate Ryan Hawks died after injuries sustained during a FWT event at Kirkwood, Calif. This season, in addition to chasing snow, Chickering-Ayers will be working with the Flyin' Ryan Ambassador program, a youth freeride coaching program set up in Hawks' memory.
Chickering-Ayers also has another plan for this winter: He is debuting a prototype ski-touring binding system called the Cast, which is a collective of hawks. "[The binding system was] created and inspired by Ryan and those we've lost before him," Chickering-Ayers says. "It is in the mountains that I find myself closest to their spirits."
Chickering-Ayers originally began tinkering with what is now the MFD Alltime four years ago. Disappointed with the current alpine touring market, he designed his first model of the Cast two years ago. He and his brother, Silas, skied the binding throughout last season, including in some Freeskiing World Tour contests. "The Marker Duke and anticipated Salomon Guardian are based off old designs -- they're basically modified Fritschis," says Chickering-Ayers.
The touring system is made of sliding plates machined out of a light and strong aluminum alloy. This patent-pending system allows skiers to replace a standard alpine binding toe piece with a Dynafit-touring binding through the use of the interchangeable plates. The toe plates are easily swapped out and are held secure by a lock pin. Climbing bails are mounted on riser plates, thus eliminating any additional drill holes.
The Cast is designed to work only with ski boots that are both ISO DIN and Dynafit compatible, although Lars has designed a tech plate to be installed on alpine boots, allowing riders to tour on the tech toe. "Arne Backstrom had a similar idea when he designed the Frankenboot, and Tecnica's Cochise came out of that, but I remember him wanting to not have to switch boot soles," Chickering-Ayers says. "In our case, we are eliminating the switching of boot soles, and are swapping only the toe piece."
The system is compatible with Head/Tyrolia, Atomic/Salomon, and Rossignol/Look bindings. This season Chickering-Ayers will have around 30 skiers on his prototype model. Next fall he will be taking pre-orders, with a goal of selling around 300 pairs. "If I can make the industry see the development, push them in the right direction, and provide products that skiers need, then I will be happy," he says.