British researchers have developed skis that continuously pump small amounts of lubricant to the surface of a ski, which could lead to faster times. Steve Mirsky reports.
British scientists have developed skis that wax themselves as you’re skiing. The researchers are working with ski manufacturers to try to get the self-waxing apparatus into skis in time for use in international competition as early as next year.
Waxing ski bottoms provides a lubrication effect that keeps the snow from sticking and helps the skier move faster. But the wax can wear off in the middle of a run. The self-waxing ski includes a sealed reservoir that holds the lube and is attached to the ski under the front of the foot—it replaces a small block that’s usually there and that separates the ski binding from the ski. Tiny valves and a series of tubes continuously deliver new lube to the bottom of the ski. And the normal motion of the skier’s leg is harnessed to pump the fluid through the system. No batteries necessary.
Tests in the Alps showed that skiers using the new skis covered a course 1 to 2 percent faster than on conventional skis, which is huge in a sport where hundredths of a second separate winners from ski bums.