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Family-Run Ski Wax Companies:  A Smaller Approach

All in the family People often lament the demise of small artisanal crafted goods. The dominance of huge retailers and manufacturers is often viewed as something between a sign of the approaching apocalypse, and proof of various conspiracy theories. In many industries, when you think of the absolute pinnacle of quality and performance, smaller companies often come to mind: Ferrari for cars, Shinola for personal goods, and, (showing my personal bias) Jenny’s for ice cream....

The Pros & Cons of League-wide Wax Protocols: Western Clubs Consider the Evolution and Impact (Part 2)

Here are links to earlier installments in this five-part series. The first two parts (part one; part two) spoke to the perspectives of high level wax technicians and industry representatives, while part three focused on the Wisconsin Nordic Ski League. To read the beginning of this article on the wax protocols of Western clubs, part four, click here.  Leveling the Playing Field In regard to the question of whether the policy widens the gap in...

The Pros & Cons of League-wide Wax Protocols: Western Clubs Consider the Evolution and Impact (Part 1)

In speaking with representatives from each of the leagues featured in this series, a few main points rose to the foreground in this discussion: the level of competition matters, how the policy came about matters, and how a program can enhance athlete support holistically by relieving wax-related expenses – measured both in time and dollars – matters.  Before jumping into discussions for club level programs across the West, here are the links to view the...

The Pros & Cons of League-wide Wax Protocols: the Wisconsin Nordic Ski League

In case you missed it, here’s part 1 and part 2 of this series, in which industry representatives and expert ski technicians discuss ski performance theory and what impact a single-wax policy may have on competitive skiing.  What goes on inside the wax cabins and trucks at high-level competitions from the SuperTour to the World Cup seems, in equal parts, expertise, artistry, and alchemy. And, for those looking to understand to which conditions their pair...

What makes a fast ski? A discussion on league-wide wax protocols and ski performance theory with Andy Gerlach, Zach Caldwell, and Knut Nystad (Part 2)

Click here to read part 1 of this story. In most states, youth skiing is divided between club and high school programming, where club programs support skiers looking to race competitively on a regional, national, or international level, perhaps with goals of NCAA skiing and beyond. High school ski programming is typically more participation focused, and comes with a much lower price tag for families, consequently with a much smaller program budget. It’s less about...

What makes a fast ski? A discussion on league-wide wax protocols and ski performance theory with Andy Gerlach, Zach Caldwell, and Knut Nystad (Part 1)

In November 2021, the Wisconsin Nordic Ski League (WNSL), which oversees both high school and club level youth programming state-wide, accepted a sponsorship proposal from Swix and Salomon, which would provide the league with $10,000 in funding per year for three years. The proposal also included stipulation that a standardized wax protocol using Swix waxes would be adopted by the league at all affiliated races, including the state championship.  In practice, this would look like...

MountainFLOW Fluoro Takeback Program: Giving skiers the option to safely dispose of fluoro waxes from anywhere

The ski community has known there’s a problem for awhile now. Fluorinated waxes, whose extreme hydrophobic properties make them ideal for fast skis, also are by that same property impossible to break down in the environment, allowing them to permeate through the soil into water supplies. The compounds are also known carcinogens, and frequent exposure to these compounds, particularly when heating and inhaling the fumes of waxes in which they are contained, is linked to...

Environmental consciousness without performance compromise: the MountainFLOW Eco Wax team takes on the Birkie

A team of familiar faces is soon headed to the American Birkebeiner, and rumor has it, their race suits will be something to behold.  Spearheaded by brand ambassador Simi Hamilton, the team of Sophie Hamilton (Caldwell), Sadie Maubet-Bjornsen, Liz Stephen, Matt Gelso, Sylvan Ellefson, and Erik Bjornsen will be racing as members of the mountainFLOW Eco Wax team. Based in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado, where Hamilton grew up, mountainFLOW Eco Wax is the...

USSS Announces Fluorinated Wax Policy for 2021/2022 Season

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. In fall 2021, following last-minute revelations that a long-promised fluoro-detecting device did not, actually, work as efficiently as planned, FasterSkier previewed an upcoming domestic race season in which U.S. Ski & Snowboard-sanctioned races would ban the use of fluorocarbon waxes, but anything would be fair game at FIS races. (For an overview of the difference between the sanctioning bodies and the rankings lists they generate, see...

A Look at SWIX’s Responsible Waxing Project

Some skiers have tossed them, some have squandered them, some have disposed of them according to specific guidelines for toxins at their local landfill. Some have donated their speed-goods to the U.S. Ski Team as it burns through its supply of high-quality fluoros. Some have simply stored them in a wax cabinet, a symbol of what was. We’re talking fluorinated wax, powders, gels, liquids, and yes, small-batch slurries. U.S. Ski and Snowboard has banned fluoros...

The Latest on the Fluoro Tracker : A Refined Evaluation Algorithm

In mid-March media outlets in Norway and Sweden reported complications with the proposed hand-held fluoro testing tool FIS plans to use next season to enforce their fluoro ban. Already, the ban was pushed back a year due to delays with accurately measuring per-fluoros residue on ski bases.  A group involved with developing the Fluoro Tracker (FT) as the testing device is known, released a paper last month titled “Detection of fluorine in skibases and skiwaxes.”...

Spring is in the Air: Time to Think About Ski Storage

A glance at the weather across North America, and no surprise, spring has arrived some places, while in other locales, deep winter has clawed back in. Jackson, New Hampshire, warmed to 59 degrees Fahrenheit today. Ditto in Lake Placid. A bit lower at 46 degrees in Hayward, Wisconsin, and a chance of rain. This morning in Bozeman, Montana was just below freezing with 92% humidity. It fell to – 4.3 degrees Celsius in Sovereign Lake,...

NRK and Expressen Report Fluoro Testing Device Flawed

Over the past few years, FasterSkier has reported on per-fluorinated waxes, powders, liquids, and pastes. Entities like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Europe’s equivalent, the European Environment Agency, are phasing out eight-chain fluorocarbons. We know, after diving into the scientific literature, the evidence suggests these compounds are not good for your health, and they persist in the environment as they do not readily breakdown into inert substances. We also know that skiers love fluoros....

Ski Tuning Basics: Glide Zones

Covering the basics with Lina Hutlin. With the growth of cross-country skiing, we decided to literally get back to the basics. We understand not all coming to the sport arrive with an encyclopedic knowledge of how and where to start. That’s where this series comes in: It’s for those new to cross-country skiing or those looking for an easy entry point for ideas on how to wax, what skis to buy, and literally placing one...

Snow – The Lubricant for Competition :  The Latest Research from Matthias Scherge

  Swiss athletes ski testing in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo: NordicFocus) Much has already been written about snow. There are countless pictures of perfectly grown snow crystals, but very little about snow found on the slopes or in the cross-country skiing tracks. The newest article in our science series provides a vivid picture of snow in its many forms. With a cell phone and a mini microscope, you get fantastic pictures of snow grains. You can...

FasterSkier Explains: How to Clean the Fluoros Off Your Skis So You Can Race the Birkie

(Photo: NordicFocus) What: Fluoros, aka perfluorinated waxes, aka ski waxes containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), aka the really expensive waxes that you put on for big races, in some or all of block, liquid, or powder form. What they do: Make your skis go really, really fast, particularly in the wet or dirty snow conditions that sadly characterize more and more high-end races in an era of artificial snow and climate change. What else...

WSCA Announces Webinar: Waxing Skis and Waning the Gender Gap (Press Release)

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The WSCA Announces Webinar: Waxing Skis and Waning the Gender Gap Today, the Women Ski Coaches Association (WSCA) announced it will host a Webinar to connect and educate women coaches, and redefine ski waxing culture and opportunities. The webinar, Waxing Skis and Waning the Gender Gap will take place on October 21st. “The ski coaching world is going through a big shift with the ban on fluoro waxes and we see...

How thick must a wax film be? The Latest Research from Matthias Scherge

  the full-length article here.   Abstract: “With physical/chemical surface analytics the layer thickness of wax was measured. The measurements prove that wax as block or powder penetrates the ski base only a few 100 nm and as spray only a few 10 nm. The wax does not use any pores in the ski base but entangles with the molecules of the polymer to form a compact sliding layer. The durability of this layer depends...