Yarmouth High School wax technician Paul Pietropaoli works on getting skis ready for the Class B Nordic ski state championship classical race at Titcomb Mountain in Farmington in February 2019. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Nordic skiers will compete under more equal conditions at this winter’s state championships thanks to new wax rules put in place by the Maine Principals’ Association.

At the state meets, skiers cannot use glide waxes higher than low-fluorocarbon (fluoro) levels, nor can they use top coat, according to Leavitt head coach and MPA ski coach liaison Dustin Williamson.

Many regular season meets also will use the new wax rules, as will the KVAC championship, which, according to Williamson, has already followed the new rules for 10 years.

The regulations will be beneficial for all skiers on the course, and their health.

“We did that change for a few reasons,” Williamson said. “One, it levels the playing field. Those waxes are expensive and, let’s be honest, each school and ski team’s budget is not the same. Some schools have more, some less, and so it’s a good way to lower the budget, and it really comes down to who is on the skis and not what is on the skis.

“The other thing, too, is the science of it, it’s quite toxic when you iron it. Luckily, we have this ski building, but the ventilation is not the greatest and, really, you need a breathing mask because it is so bad.”

The new wax regulations create more equal conditions for skiers, and saves them and their schools money.

“It saves time for us and other coaches and we don’t have to spend time putting on additional wax,” Williamson said. “It’s just, I’d rather spend money on equipment, maybe buying new skis or poles, with the money you save, rather than getting really fast, expensive wax that you’re only going to use once or twice a season.”

Most coaches have been on board with the change. Oxford Hills coach Chris Easton said that some coaches wanted to move down to hydrocarbon (CH) wax, which is lower than low-fluoro (LF), but many schools had already purchased low-fluoro wax for this winter, so the change to CH will likely come in 2020.

“A few coaches were a little bit hesitant, saying, ‘How are we going to police it?’” Easton said. “My response to that is, you’re the coach, you have to educate the kids, parents, and you have to make sure that they’re following the rules. It’s pretty simple, but I just am really happy and it’s a good thing. Next year it’ll be all CH, and the middle school has gone to all CH already.”

Emma Charles of Mt. Blue at the Leavitt Classic in Turner in January 2019. Charles won the Class A state title as a freshman last winter. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Mt. Abram’s coach Buzz Bean is one coach who wanted to change to hydrocarbon wax.

“I am in favor of the LF rule, but actually I urged the MSCA to recommend to the MPA that we go entirely no-fluoro, period,” Bean said. “The line between LF and HF (high-fluoro) is so vague and differs between different waxes that it’s like comparing the proverbial apples to oranges. One brand’s LF wax might have as much fluor as another’s HF wax, and vice versa. It would be much better to just do away with all fluoros and let the kids decide the race rather than the wax they have.”

On the course, skiers will be able to showcase their pure talents.

“My thing has always been that the best skier is going to win, whether they are using CH or anything else,” Easton said. “But with the high fluoro stuff, not everyone can afford it, then you have kids that aren’t as good using expensive wax and finishing at the top.”

“It really levels the playing field, or the ski field,” Williamson said. “It’s going to be a great direction for the sport.”

William Jordan, from Portland and Tom Bancroft, from Oxford Hills at the Leavitt Classic in Turner in January 2019. (Sun Journal photo by Andree Keh

HONORING VARNEY

One of the regular season races that has already been using the low-fluoro rules is the one Leavitt hosts each winter, which will have a new name this year.

The Hornet Classic will now be called the Roy Varney Hornet Classic, in honor of state-champion Noridic skier Roy Varney, who died in a farming accident this past summer, weeks after he graduated from Leavitt Area High School.

“It’ll be another great way to honor Roy and to pay tribute to him and to remember him and to live like him,” Williamson said.

Leavitt’s Nordic team will wear sweatshirts that say, “Live like Roy did,” on the back. The Hornets will continue to remember Varney in various ways.

“A skier was selling wristbands with those phrases on them,” Williamson said. “In football, they have stickers on the helmets so we are trying to figure out a way to do something like that — maybe on the skis, I don’t know.

“There are things being done and the goal is to continue to do things to honor him. We have been doing some great work at the Maine Outdoor Wellness Center that is going to be put up in North Turner. We are excited for that.”


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