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Norway's Mowinckel becomes first skier to be disqualified under new rule banning fluorinated wax

Ragnhild Mowinckel Ragnhild Mowinckel - The Canadian Press

SOELDEN, Austria (AP) — Norway's Ragnhild Mowinckel left the finish area of the season-opening women's World Cup race in tears Saturday after becoming the first skier to be disqualified for a forbidden type of wax on her skis.

Mowinckel, a two-time Olympic silver medalist from the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, had finished the first leg of the giant slalom in sixth place before her skis failed the mandatory post-run test by FIS officials, who took her out of the competition.

The race was won by Lara Gut-Behrami of Switzerland, while Mikaela Shiffrin placed sixth.

A rule in effect this season forbids the use of fluorinated wax in the pre-race preparation of skis.

FIS banned the substance from its competitions after years of debate about the potential harm fluorinated wax can cause to health and the environment.

“We must find out what happened. We are not trying to cheat, because that is the worst thing for me,” Mowinckel told Norwegian broadcaster TV 2.

Peter Gerdol, the women's race director of the International Ski and Snowboard Federation, said all skis were tested for the banned substance after both runs.

“This was the only ski that showed quite a high value, way more than the minimum threshold, so the jury had no other option than to disqualify the athlete,” Gerdol said.

The decision left Mowinckel's equipment supplier Head in disbelief.

"The worst case has happened. We have absolutely no explanation,” Head race director Rainer Salzgeber said.

Mowinckel's ski technician had her skis “with the exact same preparation” tested by FIS officials two days ago, according to Salzgeber, adding that “everything was green. Now it is dark red.”

Fluorinated wax has been used by ski technicians for decades, not only in Alpine but also in cross-country skiing. It's believed to make skis faster as it creates a layer that repels moisture and dirt. As a result, friction between the bottom of the ski and the snow surface is reduced, enabling an increase of the speed.


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