On February 12, 2006, just a couple of weeks from now, riders and their equipment will be put to the test at the Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy—and wax will be one of the deciding factors in a winning halfpipe run.
What about back-to-back 1080s?
The rider who wins the Olympic Halfpipe event will do two tens (and probably two nines)—but only if their board has the right wax.
When the stakes are high, professional riders don’t rely on a simple hot-wax once-over. The P-tex base of a snowboard continues to absorb wax every time it’s waxed, making it faster and faster.
So here’s what’s been going on behind the scenes: Top U.S. riders have been waxing their Olympic boards for months now. They have different boards set aside for different conditions—snow temperatures and moisture content—and they’ll choose the right board on the day of the event. Each board will have been waxed over and over with the same wax, and it’ll probably get a last-minute buffing before each run. If conditions change, the techs won’t change the wax, the rider will change boards—you may even see a board change between runs.
Only a handful of pros will be at the Olympics, and most riders don’t have a stockpile of identical boards waxed and tuned for different conditions, but the concept of consistent waxing applies to even the working man’s P-tex. The more a board is waxed, the faster it will be, and back-to-back 1080s require an awful lot of speed.