Earlier this month, FIS announced a postponement of its ban on fluorinated waxes until the start of the 2021-22 season, beginning on July 1, 2021. However the ban continues to be in effect for non-FIS sanctioned events in the United States.

In July, Ski Racing Media published “Future without fluoros: a complete guide,” which outlines these rule changes.

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According to the proposal made by the FIS working group, the upcoming season will be used for further laboratory and field testing, to finalize testing protocols, and allow for the production of additional devices for purchase by stakeholders and enable implementation of the ban at all levels of FIS competition. 

In 2019, the FIS Council decided that the use of fluorinated ski wax which has been scientifically proven to have negative environmental and health impacts, will be banned in competition for all FIS disciplines from the 2020-21 season. This follows EU regulations in effect from July 2020, that prohibit the use of certain fluorinated compounds in the manufacture of these products.

FIS strongly supports the ban on fluorinated waxes and appointed a working group who has worked tirelessly in the last months to develop a testing device and implement testing and sanctioning protocols across all disciplines in time for the start of the 2020-21 season.

This fall, FIS was able to test a hand-held fluorine tracker system able to detect fluorine on skis and snowboards designed for use at the start and finish of a competition. The standard error in the measured fluorine values from the device sensors used during these tests is less than 1% and confirms the ability of the device to accurately measure fluorine in ski bases.

Despite the accuracy of the device measurement technology, testing also indicated that there were potential sources of measurement error related to other aspects of the testing system that require further testing and design adjustments to ensure absolutely fair and consistent results for all competitors.

For example, it was observed that operator error was significant enough to require design improvements of the device’s sensor head to ensure consistent alignment. The first 1,500 tests also indicated the need for an additional sensor to eliminate measurement error related to the various types of base materials, structures and base preparations. Also, since the tests were conducted in a laboratory indoors, further testing outdoors in ambient light, temperature and weather conditions is also necessary to ensure consistent operation of the device.

The extra time will further allow for the implementation of a testing procedure for all disciplines to be prepared, tested and controlled in a proper way. It also allows for a sufficient number of fluorine tracker devices to be made available in spring 2021 to provide the opportunity to test on all FIS levels.

Until that time, all stakeholders should follow the applicable laws and regulations regarding the use of fluorinated waxes and fluorine substitutes

US Ski & Snowboard ban remains in effect

Despite the International Ski Federations’ (FIS) delay of implementing its fluorinated ski wax ban to the 2021-22 season, U.S. Ski & Snowboard will continue to ban the use of fluorinated ski wax from all non-FIS sanctioned events in the United States for the upcoming 2020-21 ski and snowboard season.

In addition, random testing may be implemented at select U.S. Ski & Snowboard events to gather information to improve the tracking, measuring, and implementation process. Testing results may be published and sanctions may be applied for positive test results. 

“Moving forward with banning fluorocarbon is the smart thing to do, not only will we avoid the inevitable, but this will continue to level the playing field and move us in the right direction from an environmental perspective,” said U.S. Ski & Snowboard President and CEO Tiger Shaw.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard voted to eliminate the use of fluorinated ski wax from all levels of competition at its May 2020 meeting.

Release courtesy of FIS and U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Is there ever the possibility that a competitor would “pick up” trace amounts of HF on their skis left in snow or on other surfaces by non-competitor skis or other sources???

  2. What about skis that were used last year? They will have trace amounts on there bases. The ban should have had a year to implement (a delay). As a parent I’m pissed that I have a supply of wax that is now banned. If I throw it away it’s still going to end up in the environment. I guess I’m going to have the fastest rec skis on the mountain.

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