There is no ban on high-end, but toxic waxes that allow cross-country skis to glide smoothly over snow.
U.S. stated that “it was supposed to have been in effect this year.” Chris Grover, ski and snowboard director for cross-county skiing and snowboarding. “But unfortunately, we don’t have the technology to do on-the spot testing at the start of races to ensure that skiers are free from fluorocarbons. The testing has not worked.”
Cross country ski officials do not have a testing device so they are unable to monitor the field and ensure fair play. Biathlon does not have a test, so organizers ask teams to sign a waiver stating that they will not use it. If caught, they could face a fine.
It is crucial to prepare the ski’s base before the racer begins. This will ensure that the ski encounters minimal resistance when they move over the snow. Friction causes skis to slide slower, making it more difficult for athletes to glide across flats and climb hills before they speed down the opposite side.
Ski waxing can be both a science or an art.
Teams of technicians apply special waxes to skis before a race. They choose the wax that suits the day’s weather conditions. Ski preparation is a key factor in winning or losing races. Racers often thank their wax techs after winning medals.
Racers’ success was dependent on the use of expensive fluorocarbon waxes.
Grover stated that the Nordic disciplines are an area where, after more than three decades of fluorocarbons use, they have become a reliance on them. “And there is no product that can match the fluorine’s ski speed.”
The wax manufacturers are highly regarded for their stronger waxes, which withstand extreme friction and last longer. Researchers found that fluorocarbons, which are part of the PFAS, can be dangerous and were often called “forever chemicals”.
The sport tried to get rid of fluorocarbon wax after it was found toxic.
Four years ago, European Union nations and the governing bodies for the ski wax companies entered into an accord that identified toxic substances in ski racing waxes. This agreement was made by Ian Harvey, a representative of Toko USA which is owned and managed by Swix, a Norwegian ski products company.
He stated that all ski waxes must adhere to the new standard starting in 2020.
It won’t be an easy task.
Harvey stated, “If you want the truth however, this pact depends on what it is being manufactured.” “The teams still have lots of old-technology waxes and they use them in many cases.”
The fluorine tracker, which is still being developed and refined by the company, can’t detect these waxes on the spot. It must be confirmed in a laboratory, and that takes some time. An instant test is essential because so much depends on these big events.
In June, the Federation Internationale de Ski stated that it would ban products containing C8 fluorocarbons due to their potential health risks and environmental impacts. However, it indicated that it was putting off implementation of on-site testing until it is more reliable.
FIS stated that the device will be tested again during winter without any penalties.
International Biathlon Union stated that it prohibits “possessing and applying, using, selling or giving-out any products with C8 fluorocarbons”. However, since they don’t have a testing device, they ask all national federations to sign a declaration agreeing to follow the regulations.
The union stated that the IBU will also conduct analyses of materials used in the preparation of skis to verify compliance with IBU rules. “This includes spot checks on materials used by individuals or teams at IBU events, as well as ski wax companies.”
In January, two countries, Moldova (and Lithuania) were penalized for breaking those rules. Each was fined “several thousand euros” by the IBU and warned that a second violation would result in a greater penalty. The IBU would ban the federation from attending the next IBU event if there was a third violation.
The fluorocarbon waxes remain the standard for skiing speed, but Toko’s Harvey claims that the new fluorine-free waxes are about the same performance as the C8 chain fluorine.
He stated that the only place where C8 chain fluorine waxes perform faster is in very, very wet snow or longer events. “Fluorine free technology has outperformed or even equaled fluorinated performance under all conditions.” China is expected to experience extreme cold and dry conditions.