World Cup Update: Fluoro Ban Update
Last season, the board of directors for FIS declared a sport-wide fluoro ban preventing countries from using any type of fluoro in FIS sanctioned international or domestic competitions. During a two-day board meeting, FIS passed one of the biggest rule changes in ski history without the consultation from teams, service members, and the majority of wax companies. FIS would later partner with a company (Kompass) to develop a machine that would test the level of fluoro in a ski. In the spring of 2020, the IBU (biathlon governing body) followed suit and also adopted the fluoro ban rule change.
Kompass was tasked with inventing a machine to test the amount of fluoro inside the base of a ski, which would be used to enforce the ban. However, Kompass had issues creating a reliable prototype through the summer and pushed out their test dates for teams and service members. Test dates got pushed from August to October to give Kompass more time to develop and refine testing.
As October got closer, teams were getting upset that reliable testing had not been produced yet. Some of the bigger teams decided to speak out, pleading to FIS and IBU that if there was not a 100% accurate test by October 9th, they would not participate in the XC or Biathlon season. Kompass was unable to produce a test that could accurately track the amount of fluoros nor could they produce an accurate baseline in the skis.
Given these setbacks, FIS and IBU have now pushed back the fluoro ban to summer 2021. This will give Kompass an additional year to test and develop an accurate device.
So what does this mean for the world of xc racing? For everyone other than the international race circuit, you will have to look at your regional governing body for rules. For all USSA sanctioned races for the 2020/2021 season, the fluoro ban will still be in effect. The US rule change was made with the assumption that no fluoro tracking devices would be available and that it would be enforced using the honor system. The FIS and IBU rolling back on the fluoro ban for one season will have no impact on the ban domestically here in the US. Canada will be mirroring USSA with the fluoro ban.
There is a North American Fluoro Free working group that includes leaders from both USSA and CCC to help facilitate the rule changes for the 2020/2021 ski season. The group is working closely with all wax manufacturers to create a resource for athletes and coaches to go to that will have links to their respective websites that lists all fluoro free waxes.
On the international level, teams will be using and testing fluoros for each of the competitions as well as testing the new non-fluoro products so we are better prepared for when the fluoro ban eventually comes around.
The World Cup schedule has not changed since it was released, and the first two periods of the competition will run without fans with the first competition to be held in Ruka, Finland on November 27-29, 2020. Periods of competition are broken down into 5 different sections where after each section there is typically an extra week (or two) for the athletes to rest. The 3rd and 4th periods could change depending on the COVID situation.
About the author...
Jeremy Hecker is the current racing service manager at Pioneer Midwest and Rex Ski Wax technical representative for the US. He has been skiing for his entire lifetime, racing competitively in college for St. Scholastica. Since graduating in 2013 he has coached for numerous teams including Endurance United, Stratton Mountain School, and the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. In addition to his coaching experience, Jeremy has a Masters degree in the Biology of Physical Activity which he obtained from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland.
About the author...
Chris Hecker is a US ski team wax tech and the Rex Ski Wax technical representative for the US. This will be Hecker’s 4th year as a World Cup wax tech and has attended numerous world championships and the South Korea Olympics. Hecker hails from Ham Lake, Minnesota, racing for Anoka high school and St. Scholastica College.