News from FIS Spring Meeting 2020 that was held on 25 May Virtually

The major topics that were addressed are the following:

  • Cortina (Italy) is supposed to host the World Alpine Ski Championships in 2021. The organizing committee has asked the FIS to postpone the event until 2022. The FIS council has decided to review that request in until 1 July 2020. So this is still undecided.

  • The FIS World Cup racing calendars have been finalized and posted on the FIS website.

  • The big issue was the fluorination ban that the FIS will be instituting for the 2020/21 season.

The Council decided in November 2019 that the use of fluorinated ski wax will be banned for all FIS disciplines from the 2020-21 season which have been shown scientifically to have a negative environmental and health impact. Regulations have been established in USA that are already in place and will be implemented in the EU from July 2020 which impact the manufacturer of these products.

Kompass has developed hand-held detector testing devices that will be certified by the Frauenhof Institute and tested during the summer months. Thereafter they will also be made available for the industry and teams. Subject to successful test of the prototype testing devices, the controls will be implemented from November 2020, with tests carried out in the start and finish areas.

For the season 2020-21 the measurement limit will be defined to give the possibility for the manufacturers, service technicians and teams to adapt to the new situation. The measurement limit will be fixed based on the experience of the testing and validation phase in the summer 2020. From the 2021-22 season, after evaluation from the first season the measurement limit will be lowered to a possible minimum with the objective of a zero limit of fluorinated gliding compounds as from season 2022-23.

I have seen commentary on the internet saying that the FIS fluorine ban has been posponed a year. I consider this to be inaccurate. The FIS is going to set a threshold for fluorine that the bases can contain for 2020/21 which will not be as strict as it will be for the years later. This is to account for contamination from fluorine that might already be in a base, contamination from brushes, skiing over contaminated snow, etc. My opinion is that this threshold should be such that were a ski waxed with any fluorinated wax, the result would be well over the threshold and would result in a disqualification. The exact threshold has not been officially set yet. For 2021/22 there will also be a threshold that should be a higher standard (even less fluorine particles allowed). And finally for 2022/23 there will be a 0 limit standard (absolutely no particles or residue allowed).

This is a very important topic that affects all FIS sanctioned racing. Here is additional specific information in the form of an interview with Roman Kumpost who is the Fluor Working Group Chairman:

At the Council Meeting this week, an update was given by the appointed Fluor Working Group Chairman Roman Kumpost regarding the banning of the use of fluorinated waxes across all FIS disciplines starting next season. On behalf of the Working Group, Mr. Kumpost reported that the project is on schedule to being implemented for the 2020-21 season. Below he answers some questions about the process and what to expect next season.
Mr. Kumpost, you are the chairman of the working group, can you give a little history on why this working group was formed?

Kumpost: In November 2019, the FIS Council decided to ban the use of fluorinated waxes starting from the season 2020-21 because it has been shown they have a negative impact on both the health of people working with the wax and a harmful impact on the environment. Regulations have been established in USA that are already in place and will be implemented in the EU from July 2020 which impact the manufacturer of these products. Because it was a decision that has an impact on all FIS disciplines and our colleagues from IBU Biathlon, which all use ski wax, the working group was formed to ensure any decision we made would work for all of the involved stakeholders. 

Some thought it was a very tight timeline to accomplish this goal. Do you agree?

Kumpost: On one hand yes, but we have a very competent and  motivated group and quickly found partners that could help develop and implement the technology. We contracted the company Kompass to run the development of hand-held detector testing devices that will be certified by the Fraunhofer Institute and tested during the summer months. Thereafter they will also be made available for the tests with the industry and teams. Subject to successful test of the prototype testing devices, the controls will be implemented from November 2020. 

So how will the testing work?

Kumpost: Every FIS discipline has a different operational handling for equipment testing so it will vary largely from discipline to discipline, but the hand held device will be used as part of the normal equipment testing procedure before the start and after the finish of competitions. So, for example, in Alpine Skiing, when a racer crosses the finish line their skis are always measured for length and other parameters at this same time, the hand held detector will also be used additionally to the control before start. Ski Jumping material control before start has been in place for years. From this point of view the use of the fluor detecton device will be nothing new for the teams and competitors.

With this being a new rule, will there be a level of tolerance in the first season?

Kumpost: For the upcoming 2020-21 season, the measurement limit (tolerance) will be defined in order to discriminate between the use of fluorinated waxes and a potential contamination or an incomplete cleaning of the preexisting material. The measurement limit will be fixed based on the experience of the testing and validation phase in the summer 2020. 
Starting with the 2021-22 season, after evaluation from the first season the tolerance will be already lowered to a possible minimum. 
The goal of FIS is to receive "zero" level at latest in the season 2022-23.
But despite the above tolerance, the ban will go into effect starting with the 2020-21 season?

Kumpost: Yes, correct. The use of fluorinated waxes in all FIS disciplines is not allowed anymore and we will start to control the ban with the start of the upcoming season 2020/21. The tolerance mentioned above will be minimal and ensures a smooth transition for all stakeholders.
Toko is Developing Fluorine Free Race Products
We have been working on this for many years. With the FIS ban, our efforts have obviously been intensified and we have made much progress. One thing key point needs to be made though: we will not come out with new fluorine racing products unless they perform to our very high standard . We have already achieved this in some temperature ranges, but are still working on this in others.
Marketing does not drive Toko. Innovation and performance does!
More on this in the fall of course.
Our Warehouse is up and running again!
The non essential business closure order from the Massachusetts governor has been lifted and our warehouse is shipping again. All existing open orders have been shipped.
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