“Putting wax on modern skis is just as wrong as tarring a plastic boat,” says Leonid Kuzmin, whose research at Mid Sweden University has split the ski world into two debating camps. Kuzmin's new technique entails using ordinary steel scrapers, and his research and testing has debunked dogma about the wonders of ski wax.

The gliding surface of modern cross country skis is made of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene. It is a material that offers extremely good wear characteristics, a low coefficient of friction and the capacity to self-lubricate.

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“It’s a myth that you need to use wax on skis. Modern ski bases provide better glide. It’s enough to treat the surface of the ski mechanically, using a steel scraper, for example, to achieve good glide. This also minimizes your cost as well as the time you spend," maintains Kuzmin.

He also points out that there are unhealthy aspects to using ski wax. Glide wax contains fluorocarbons, and if it gets set aflame, it releases gases that are ten times as toxic as the chemical weapon phosgene.

He has demonstrated that a few swipes with a scraper, which is a simple tool, achieves good glide on the ski trail, and it's simpler and cheaper than waxing. Kuzmin's wife, Antonina Ordina, gave up waxing in the 1995 World Championships. She won a bronze medal. He concludes that glide wax is outdated for both recreational and elite racers.

Kuzmin adds that it's senseless to destroy the excellent material of which skis are made with a less suitable material like glide wax. "Those who claim otherwise are practicing voodoo and not science," he declares.

Source: Swedish Research Council, www.miun.se or http://kuzmin.se

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