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Winter Olympics 2018 Can Swiss ski wax help racers glide to gold?

ski race

Switzerland's Mauro Caviezel takes part in the men's downhill training at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on February 10, 2018


Zurich researchers are hoping that their new highly resistant ski wax can help racers glide to victory at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. 

A team of researchers at the University of Applied Sciences Zurich (ZHAW)external link, in association with the wax specialists Toko, have developed a new ski wax containing a synthetic molecule that is more resistant to wear and tear.

When the artificial molecule is heated with a mercury vapour lamp, a stable bond is created with the ski base, allowing it to adhere much longer. Under ultraviolet light, the molecule reacts by releasing nitrogen which leaves a highly reactive nitrene that binds with the wax to the plastic base. 

In the lab, the researchers demonstrated that their wax wears away twice as slowly as a conventional high-performance product. In ski tests, racers completing a 20-second run shaved off between 0.1-0.3 seconds from their race time, or a 1.5% improvement. Field tests with cross-country skis were also promising, especially in cold conditions. 

The ZHAW wax is currently being tested at the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea in biathlon, cross-country and alpine skiing events. However, the identity of the racers remains a secret.




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