The IBU hosted a seminar for team technicians on 20-21 September 2023 to provide further information on the implementation of the Fluor ban which comes into effect at the upcoming 2023/2024 season.
The full ban of ski preparation products containing fluor at all IBU event series from 2023/2024 season onwards was announced by the IBU in March 2023 in response to health risks and environmental concerns associated with fluorine waxes.
Given the significance of this ban on the technical operation of the sport, the IBU committed to regular dialogue and education seminars with National Federations (NFs), their teams and technicians to ensure they are fully aware of its implications and how it will be enforced. During the off-season the IBU has worked closely with the teams and their technicians to ensure a smooth transition to the full ban.
The seminar was attended by team technicians from 33 NFs and gave them the opportunity to work with the detection device, explore new products and applications as well as learn how to optimize cleaning methods. The meeting also included a panel discussion with wax technicians to share the teams’ feedback on the implementation of the testing protocol.
Feedback from the technicians following the seminar was positive.
Tobias Dahl Fenre, Chief Technician of the Norwegian Biathlon Federation, said:
“For the upcoming season, we are well prepared. We have worked with the testing device for almost a year and being fluor-free is not a problem. The problem could more occur through contamination in the system. However, cleaning skis will not be a problem. Contamination from the environment is very unlikely as you need to physically ‘attach’ fluor to the ski. We will probably face some rough days but if we behave fluor-free, working in the same direction, we will handle this much better now than we have ever had a chance to do it before. "
“At the beginning of the process, I was frustrated but in the last two years, we developed a system, where we, as a group, were invited. We are communicating in a much better way, and many of our needs are met.
“For sure it is important that my team competes clean, but it is also important for me that other teams are also clean. If we start to get the red lights [meaning the detection device finds fluor on skis], we will have a big problem. We are all responsible for this to work and we need to keep the reputation of our job as good as possible.
“My strategy for the beginning of the season will be very careful and we will buy products narrowly. The biggest goal is to have all the athletes on the start, that is why to be safe, we will start building up on the products very slowly.”
Andreas Emslander, Head Technician R&D for the German Ski Association, added:
“We have the same experience as Norway, we know that the surroundings are not a problem but you have to be very careful with everything that is touched.
“It is important that everyone is doing their best and leaves the past products behind. Do not think about it anymore, and go for clean skis, which will allow us to have a smooth transition to a new system.
“We handled the topic in the right way in the last couple years and it will now work.”
Federico Fontana, Head of Service & Team Manager of US Biathlon, said:
“For Team USA, it is important to shift to a new waxing era with no fluor. Our goal is to come to the first competitions this season with confidence in what we are doing, knowing that we did the right things, trusting the process.
“We feel it is the right thing that IBU and National Federations cooperate in this process. It is important for all of us to go in the same direction to have as much “green lights“ as possible.”
Moreover, the IBU introduced attendees to the procedure for common waxing which will be implemented at all IBU Junior and Regional events.