Hoji about the BEAST binding – an interview
Eric Hjorleifson is a professional freerider, DYNAFIT athlete and consultant for freeride boot development since 2011 and member of the BEAST development team since 2012.
How long have you been part of the Dynafit Family?
I started unofficially skiing Dynafit boots and bindings in 2009, modifying the Titans to meet my skiing needs. By 2011 I was officially working as a consultant for freeride boot development as well as a Freeride athlete. In 2012 I was invited to work on the Beast binding project with Fred Andersson, the Beast's creator.
How and when did the project BEAST 16 come to your mind?
Well to clarify, the Beast was not truly my idea, Dynafit in conjunction with Fred had developed the Beast in secrecy for the past 4 years. Ironically I had some much simpler ideas that paralleled the direction of the Beast's design. I remember my first official introduction to Fred, I had a bunch of simple hand drawings on graph paper, he had full CAD illustrated drawings and a very rough prototype, it was super exciting, Haha! I couldn't believe that Dynafit had been working on a binding that was exactly what I was looking for the whole time I had been working with them, very very sneaky.
What are your tasks in the development of the BEAST binding?
Well Fred and I hit it off instantly, we were both on the same page as far as the direction of the Beast. Fred's technical based engineering skill complimented my logical on snow testing and experience. I think Fred appreciated my attention to detail and the fact that I am always focused on improving product. I really appreciated his super advanced engineering skills and his ability to solve multiple problems with one solution. The result is the elegantly designed Beast, truly an engineering feat, I consider it to be the most advanced ski binding to date!
I became the test pilot, skiing on various generations of prototypes. Visiting Dynafit's Lab in Ascheim, working on the bindings with Fred then heading to the Austrian Alps and testing out the revisions, it was super cool. To top it all off, Fred is an excellent skier, he even had built his own freeride skis a few years back so we had a blast shredding on the prototypes.
I came up with the idea of mounting my helmet cameras on my skis as a excellent way to film how the bindings were performing while skiing. I would take a bunch of shots, make rough edits, in real speed and slow motion and then show them to the binding development team back in the office. This was cool because without my involvement in the project they would not have had this style of feedback and information.
How many tests have been done between the lab and the snow?
I began skiing the early beast Prototypes in the February of 2012 with Fred right after ISPO. Then I visited in May 2012 for a couple weeks of on snow testing and Lab time.
Last January I organized a two week Beast testing trip in conjunction with Sweetgrass Productions at Golden Alpine Holidays (GAH). All footage I have in Sweetgrass's film "Valhalla" was on the Beasts officially testing them! It was amazing, Fred joined us and we began documenting the Beast testing. Obviously we had to start off slowly, making sure they were working well, once we had a few solid days on them we began to ramp up the intensity of the skiing until ultimately we were full on shredding them and getting high passed action shots for the film. I remember one line in particular that had about a 30ft/10m drop with a mandatory stomp pin point landing surrounded by trees, it really was the proving point of the Beast for me!
My testing continued throughout the entire 2013 season, I skied the Beast's exclusively the entire year, including for my brief but intense segment with Sherpas Cinema for their two year project "Into The Mind". The only exception when I did not ski on the Beast's was when I joined the Dynafit team in the Alps for the X7 mission, that was such an intense and physically difficult trip that I needed the lightest gear possible just to try and keep up, haha!
I have continued testing the Beast this summer, up on the Blackcomb glacier in the Camp Of Champions (COC) terrain park, down in Argentina during a 4 week trip and finally at the beginning of October when we received an amazingly early surprise storm. I have continued to correspond constantly providing them with on snow testing feedback...
My testing will continue this season as well, I guess you could say I consider my job to be endless. This is only a summary of my involvement with the on snow testing of the Beast, you also have to consider there have been hundreds perhaps thousands of lab hours dedicated to developing the Beast...
How long was the development process from the first idea to the market-ready binding?
I am not sure exactly the date when Fred signed on with Dynafit to develop the Beast or how long he had been working on it before hand but I speculate it was at least a 5 year project. My involvement began in February 2012, so just over one and half years for myself.