Why do world cup skiers need so many pairs of skis?

On February 21st, 2018, the New York Times published an article by Bill Pennington titled “Why Mikaela Shiffrin Brought 35 Pairs of Skis to the Olympics”. The article describes the difficulties and reasons surrounding professional skiers and their quivers. Sparked by the interest in this seemingly over-preparedness, Green Ice Wax interviewed Olympic athlete Cristian Javier Simari Birkner of Argentina. The top 6 reasons are outlined in this article:

  1. Wax Preparation – Technicians prepare skis for race day with their own special recipes. They prep each base with various layers of wax based on expected snow temperature, humidity, snow type, etc. This process requires time. In order to prepare for sudden changes, technicians will prepare identical skis with different recipes and make the final call before the start.
  2. Base Structure – With recent advancements in equipment, technicians can apply various structures to the base of the ski in addition to wax. Similar to a car tire, different structures will perform better under certain conditions. Wet snow melts faster under a ski than dry, icy snow. A deep base structure will allow the snow to flow more easily (less friction) as the water passes. Keep in mind, the ski does not ride on snow. Instead, the friction between the base and the ground melts the snow into water. The water droplets then travel through the grooves set up by the technician in an effort to reduce drag.
  3. Dimensions – This might be the most obvious for those of us who have competed in the past. Each event requires a different ski to best execute the turns. That automatically means at least 4 sets of skis are required even before considering preparation and preference. On the short side you have slalom skis and on the longer side is downhill. Giant Slalom and Super-G fall in the middle. Below is a chart of the length and radius (turn diameter) of skis as established by FIS, the regulating body of all things ski racing.

    Event

    Men’s Length (cm) Men’s Radius (m) Women’s Length (cm)

    Women’s Radius (m)

    Slalom

    165

    155

    Giant Slalom

    195 35 188

    30

    Super G 210 45 205

    40

    Downhill 218 50 210

    50

  4. Stiffness – Again it comes back to the snow conditions. With aggressive snow (think Vail or Aspen), a softer ski would be more preferable. This is relative of course, as most skis on the circuit would be stiff compared to the average skier. When the snow is less aggressive, skiers prefer a stiffer ride (think Alta Badea, Italy)
  5. Edge Preparation – That thin sheet of metal along the side of the ski is essential to performance. At 90 degrees, the base edge would blend in with the base of the ski. Because steel does not glide as easily as the plastic base, this would hinder performance (besides the fact you’d constantly catch an edge). The side angle is a whole story in itself. Most of it comes down to preference. Angles change based on the consistency and grip of the snow. The trick comes down to tuning the proper setting for race day and deciding how aggressive an angle is required. Skiers typically have different setting for each event.
  6. Binding Placement – The position of the boot on the ski can aid the athlete when it comes to initiating turns. The further forward (to a certain point) will give the the athlete an advantage when it comes to initiating turns. This proves advantageous in older, less aggressive snow conditions.

By looking at just these 6 reasons, it becomes obvious why world cup athletes come prepared with over 30 pairs to the Olympics. After years of hard work, the athletes expect their equipment to be flawless (or close to it). With all the responsibility, it seems like the technicians might have the hardest job of any ski racer!!

Advertisements

Skiing and Riding on Artificial Snow Surfaces

Numerous ski areas across Europe and the Mid-East make winter sports available to athletes year round with the use of artificial snow surfaces. These regions experience little to no snow annually, making snow sports virtually impossible prior to the introduction of these man-made slopes. These regions include regions such as England, with more rain than snow, and have recently made their appearance in the United States. Below is a cross section and overview of the surface used to simulate a snow covered hill.

Artificial snow surfaces are gaining popularity in Virginia, Michigan and Connecticut. With the growing unpredictability of winter storms, these resorts are looking to expand beyond just the winter season. Green Ice Wax’s chemist paid a visit to a Connecticut facility to check out it out for himself. He found a surface comprised of plastic and containing silicone embedded in the polymer. The silicone reduces the friction and allows the ski or board to slide more freely.

“The material is quite hard and will be abrasive on skies or boards. However, the material’s ‘finger like’ design allows the skier to turn on edge.” – The Chemist

These resorts recommend that skiers and riders wear long sleeve shirts and long pants with elbow and knee pads , as well as gloves to protect in case of a fall. The hill also requires preparation to make for a smooth and cushioned ride. There are three layers of material under the snow surface. Two layers of a felt material which sandwich a plastic mesh and are then screwed into place on the hill.

fake snow 3

Since the plastic creates a coarse surface, riding on it generates high amounts of friction, and thus heat. Waxing skis will not totally protect the base, but will help performance on the hill. It is recommended to use a hard wax such as Green Ice Wax 1000 Cold. Be prepared for a damaged base, regardless of the quantity or hardness of the wax.

Artificial snow surfaces provide skiing and riding all year round. Racers can use the practice hill to increase stamina and muscle memory. The resort gains an advantage to start the snow ski season earlier as less snow will be required to cover the hill; there is no grass or rough terrain to cover.

Powder Ridge Mountain

Powder Ridge Mountain Resort

Anyone with experience on an artificial slope is welcome to leave us a comment! Let us know what you think and how your bases fared after a day on the (fake) snow!!

Green Ice Wax supplies Marhar Snowboards

Green Ice Wax is proud to supply Marhar Snowboards with our highest performing wax for their entire line of production boards.

After extensive testing, Marhar selected our GI 2000 over several of the top-brand waxes. Ease of application, effortless scraping, minimal brushing, and most of all, durability were the deciding factors. Green Ice Wax just didn’t oxidize like the other waxes, and therefore easily passed the time test.

Marhar is a forward thinking company whose boards feature eco-friendly bamboo, an easily renewable resource. So, naturally an environmentally conscious wax company like Green Ice was a perfect match. Responsible decision making, quality design, and hard work have made Marhar one of the fastest growing snowboard companies on the market.

We are excited to announce this partnership between these two American companies, Marhar Snowboards and Green Ice Wax.

This relationship is going downhill fast.

 

marhar

False claims exist throughout ski wax business

The backbone of most ski/board wax is paraffin or micro-crystalline wax. Although these waxes are non-hazardous, they are long chain polymers produced from petroleum. They are not known to be biodegradable.

Recently, some wax companies are touting their micro-crystalline wax as biodegradable. We find this misleading to consumers looking to reduce their carbon footprint. The only true biodegradable waxes are made from renewable resources (i.e. plants).  For years, many skiers and riders have been reluctant to use these waxes. Green Ice sought to tackle the challenge by developing a higher performance biodegradable wax. We determine the wax’s effectiveness by its ability to reduce static friction created by the base on the snow. The product can be made as hard or soft as required through formula adjustment and thus effective on all snow conditions.

In order to improve performance of wax, formulators mix a variety of additives to the micro-crystalline base. The most common of these additives is fluorocarbons. As mentioned in previous GI wax blogs, these additives can be hazardous to the applicator’s health if protective equipment is not used. It has also been determined in earlier EPA reports that fluorocarbons can be broken down to smaller molecules which get in our streams and rivers and eventually fish.

Other additives like graphite and molybdenum are used for dirty snow conditions. They are believed to repel dirt. Graphite is a type of carbon black which is known to contain carcinogens, while molybdenum is a transition metal similar to chromium. Both these compounds cannot be considered biodegradable or eco-friendly. GI wax also uses and additive to improve performance in  GI1000 and 2000, however, this additive is safer during the application process and significantly more eco-friendly.

GI Ultimate, Paste and N8** product lines solve both the initial and secondary issues. The wax is 100% biodegradable and reduces static friction significantly as compared to its predecessors.

It is GI’s contention that buyers beware that not all ski wax is biodegradable safe and eco-friendly. Therefore, consider GI wax for your next wax purchase.

 

* N8 is a brand produced by Green Ice Wax for Nate Holland,. x games gold winner in snowboard cross

** Results of cross country skiing both racing and recreational produced by Carters XC ski resort, Bethel Maine.

A case for custom foot beds

You just purchased new ski boots and spent more money than you anticipated. Now you think to yourself “Should I have custom foot beds made?”.

According to master boot fitter Greg Pier of Heino’s Ski and Cycle in Pequannock Township, NJ, there are three important reasons for custom foot beds ; performance, comfort, and reduction of fatigue.

All ski boots have foot beds inside the liner. They are designed for simple support and comfort for everyone.

.default-foodbeds

(Standard ski boot liner from the manufacturer. Flat sole with minimal arch)

A custom foot bed is molded to an individual’s foot. Since everyone’s foot is different, a custom foot bed will give maximum support.

custom-footbd

(Custom heat molded foot bed. Arch is higher and heel enhanced)

  1.  Performance.

It is important to understand that boot manufacturers design the hard shell plastic boot to a neutral foot. But who has a neutral foot?   The concept is for the skier’s foot to be in a neutral position to achieve perfect balance. “The skier’s center of gravity should be poised to react to varying terrain, speed and obstacles. “ * If a skier’s weight is out of alignment in the boot, it is more difficult to find the balance point. A custom foot bed will position the foot in the boot to help achieve a neutral, balanced position and thus improve performance on the snow.

  1.  Comfort

Since the hard shell plastic boot is designed for a neutral foot, custom foot beds will position the skier to a neutral position. It will adjust one’s stance so there is no pressure at any point in the boot and thus no pain.

For example, 90% of the population’s ’ankles roll inward (called pronation). This causes the arch to collapse, putting pressure on the inside ankle once in the boot.  Custom foot beds will correct the ankle roll making the boot more comfortable.

  1. Fatigue.

All of us have felt fatigue upon standing all day. We also know which shoes are better for standing, as they tend to have more support. Well, the same is true for ski boots. More support equals less tired feet. And when our feet are happy, we can ski longer and enjoy the mountain and thrill of skiing longer!

* interview with Greg Pier 10/19/16 by Green Ice Wax

Cutting out fluoro wax can help reduce greenhouse gases

Recently, 200 nations joined together to reduce hydofluorocarbon (HFC) gases. HFC is considered one of the most potent greenhouse gas. It is 10,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide, the most well-known culprit in the increasing levels of greenhouse gases. The main use of HFC is refrigerants, aerosols, and foams. Countries, including the USA and China, have agreed to various deadlines to reduce the use of these gases produced as a result of human activity.

US Secretary of State, John Kerry said “It is a monumental step forward.” The US and Europe have committed to cut the use of these harmful gases incrementally, starting with a 10% reduction by 2019 and reaching 85% by 2036. By reducing the HFC gases, a climate change of approximately 0.5°C (or 0.9°F) rise in temperature by 2100 can be avoided.

As skiers and riders, we can do our part to reduce this greenhouse gas by eliminating using fluorocarbon waxes. HFCs are precursors and by-products of the fluorocarbons used in ski and snowboard wax. Fortunately, there are alternative additives for wax to keep it fast. Green Ice Wax has been using these alternative, ecofriendly additives in its race wax series now for 4 years. The wax is endorsed by Travis Ganong, Olympiad and US professional downhill ski racer. The waxes have been used successfully by professionals and collegiate racers for some time.

European Race Professionals told Green Ice Wax that fluoro-based ski wax will soon be banned in Europe. So let’s all do our part and be proactive to stop the depletion of the ozone layer, which shields the earth from harmful UV rays from the sun, by switching our race wax to a non-fluoro wax, GI2000. (Available at www.greenicewax.com)

 

New York Post, “Nearly 200 Nations Agree to Cut Greenhouse Gases” Reuters, Oct 15, 2015

Using infrared heat to wax skis and snowboards 

Remember ROYGBIV, the colors of the rainbow? Well, light is composed of electromagnetic radiation having various wavelengths. The red color has the longest wavelength of the visible spectrum (the distance between the peak of one wave to that of the next). There are other types of electromagnetic radiation that we cannot see.  For example, microwave, which has a relatively long wavelength compared to visible light. This radiation is used for cooking, thus the name microwave ovens. Wavelengths in between the red color and microwaves are called infrared. These wavelengths are usually emitted by heat producing objects such as outdoor heat lamps found at bars and restaurants.

Infrared (IR) technology is used in night vision, heating, cooking, wireless communication such as garage door openers and weather forecasting. Recently, doctors have suggested using IR lamps to help alleviate joint pain, muscle strains, skin rashes and other issues relating to eyes, nose, ears and sinuses. “This heat and other light frequencies improve circulation, hydration, oxygenation and often disable or weaken harmful microorganisms.”¹ IR heat penetrates deeply below the skin making it a highly effective technique.

For some time, ski technicians have been investigating and discussing the use of IR heating to apply wax. In fact, Reichmann (manufacturer of tuning and wax equipment) has introduced the Wall Speed system. It is a compact waxing machine which utilizes infrared heaters to insure a gentile but also intensive treatment. They claim the base is able to absorb more wax, which penetrates deeper and therefore increases service life.²

The GI team has investigated using IR heat instead of an iron using the follow method:

Equipment:

 A standard 250 watt reddish heat lamp by FEIT $10-15 and clamp on lamp socket $10 -$20

infrared-bulbinfrared-light

Green Ice Wax GI 2000 warm safe and eco-friendly ski and snowboard wax available at www.greenicewax.com

pink-wax

Standard waxing nylon and horsehair brushes also available at www.greenicewax.com

 nylon-brush

Procedure:

Apply the wax to a previously cleaned ski by rubbing the wax on the base making sure the entire ski wax covered. Remove the excess wax with a soft clean cloth.

Turn on the lamp and allow it to heat up. Hold the lamp approximately 2-3 inches above the wax applied base. Allow the wax to melt and flow. As the wax melts move the lamp down the ski until the whole ski surface was treated.

Allow the wax to harden and cool.

Brush with a nylon and horsehair brush.

Observations:

The temperature of the base did not exceed the melt temperature of the wax. In this case 120°F as measured with an Infrared thermometer.

Some advantages noted were that the base temperature could not overheat as the wax flowed evenly and was allowed to penetrate deeply. The temperature was consistent unlike like that of an iron’s temperature which fluctuates during application. Also since the lamp is held over the base, there is no contact and thus no chance to compromise the base material. The technique is fast as scrapping is not required and is safe because the wax does not fume.

 

This technique is not commonly used yet and is still under investigation as to its performance and durability. However, based on the experience of the GI team, it is worth further investigation and has promise as a clear choice for waxing skis and snowboards in the future. Green Ice Wax is an excellent of wax for infrared application as it has a low melting point and excellent flow characteristics.

See www.greenicewax.com 

 

1. “Single Red Heat Lamp Therapy”, Dr. Lawrence Wilson, Nov 15, LD Wilson Consulting, Inc.

2. Reichmann Ski and Board Tuning. Reichmann’s Wall Speed equipment http://www.reichmann-skiservice .com

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Understanding Base Structure

A very important aspect of a ski/board base is its structure. Recall from , a board or ski does not slide on snow, it rides on water. As the base moves over the snow, the energy from the friction melts the snow. The base then rides over a small pool of water. The water then re-freezes after the base has passed. Therefore just as a car’s tires has threads, a ski or board should have structure to allow the water to flow unrestricted.

Most interesting, not all skis or boards have structure. Usually, a new ski has a structure out of the factory; however as people have their skis tuned, the structure may gradually fade if disregarded. In the back room of a ski shop, tuning machines have the ability to remove and apply structure. To remove structure, skis are driven over a sanding belt. To apply structure they are driven over a stone grinder, which has been cut with a diamond to apply a pattern to the ski.

When an economical tune is applied, a fine sanding belt maybe used as the last step, thus eliminating any structure. A racer or high performance tune is usually finalized with the stone grind, which imbeds a new structure to the ski /board. (See photo).

There are many technicians that believe that the structure is the most important part of the tuning and should not be overlooked. A good structure will not only provide speed but better control. Be sure that your tune up includes a base structure!

Well Structured Base
structured base

Unstructured Base
unstructured base

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

DemoDon’s XC Wax Review

demodon

As most skiers and racers understand, wax is most critical in Nordic skiing. Although speed is most important, it is necessary to be able to grip the snow when traveling up hill. While on the snow, cross country skiers will encounter various snow conditions. It is not uncommon to have soft snow in sunny areas and ice condition on the top of the course or trail.

Three advantages of using DemoDon’s Cross Country ski wax (made by Green Ice Wax) by Marcus Wentworth are:

1. Skis run fast. Along with speed comes less effort to skiing.
2. They continue to run fast in the last half of the race or later in the day when other skiers had collected dirty skis with fluoro based wax. DemoDon’s wax stayed clean.
3. The kick wax, which is a tacky wax applied under the foot area of the ski, gripped well when stepping down and broke free to glide when speeding up again. This is critical as skiers do not want their wax to hold them back once they are back in the speed mode again.

DemoDon’s XC wax is available in a universal temperature, biodegradable glide and tack wax along with fluoro-free racer series designed for three different snow temperature conditions.

See http://www.greenicewax.com

**Marcus Wentworth is a top Nordic Skier at Gould Academy in Maine**

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Advertisements