To be used effectively, all conventional temperature specific waxes require fairly accurate
information about the snow conditions. But one rarely has this luxury. Most of us wax Friday
night and hit the snow Saturday morning, or the weather changes during a race, or snow
temperatures vary a lot in the sunny and shady areas of the racecourse. To adapt to this reality,
we developed the Zoom thermoactive waxes. These products change their properties rapidly
as a function of snow temperature and adapt to changes in snow conditions. Because of this
ability, they work very well over a broad range of snow temperatures (0°C to -10°C/ 32°F to
14°F), from wet to fairly cold snow. They can feel a little slower on extremely cold snow so we
augment them with the Bullet or Psycho extreme cold waxes when it gets that cold. This system
provides race proven results yet requires the kind of minimal information you can get with a
quick phone call to the ski patrol. You need to know only two things: The age of the snow (new
or old), and the snow temperature category (normal, cold, or extreme cold).
The Zoom system explained
Let’s first get a better understanding of the reasons why different waxes are needed. The
figure below shows the hardness of ice and three temperature-specific waxes (yellow, pink, and
turquoise) as a function of temperature. We use ice as a model but similar trends are observed
with the other forms of snow crystals. We see that although the hardness of the three waxes
changes little with temperature, ice hardens rapidly as it gets colder. Since the correct wax is
the one that is slightly harder than the snow, pink is best at –4°C and turquoise is best at –9°C.
It is also possible to use mixtures of waxes to achieve intermediate hardness values so a mix of
pink and turquoise is best for –7°C and a mix of yellow and pink at –2°C.
EFFECT OF TEMPERATURE ON WAX AND ICE HARDNESS
Using the information from the above figure, we can create the following waxing chart for ice:
Although the first consideration in wax selection is snow temperature, there is another factor
which must be taken into account: the snow crystal shape. If you look at the snow crystal chart
below, you’ll see that certain shapes are much more aggressive than others. For example, the
star-shaped crystals on the left side of the chart will penetrate wax much more easily than will
the rounded crystals on the right side of the chart, even if both types of crystals are at the same
For a successful wax selection we need information on snow temperature AND general
snow crystal type (normal, aggressive or rounded). This poses a challenge for most
users who must wax without access to this information.
Although temperature specific waxes work very well within their specified snow temperature
ranges there are some practical problems regarding their use:
• Not everybody uses a snow thermometer. People often wax Friday night with no knowledge
of what the snow conditions will be when they hit the snow Saturday morning.
• Weather changes during a race from the first to the last racer or between the first and
second runs of a race.
• There can be significant snow temperature differences on a racecourse if you have sunny or
shades areas or different exposures.
Because of the above situations we have developed the Zoom thermoactive series: They are
waxes containing components that cause them to rapidly harden at colder temperatures and
resist snow penetration. Thermoactive waxes are called that because their properties (such as
hardness) change with temperature.
The Zoom waxes greatly increase the possibility of a successful wax choice. They do, however,
tend to feel sticky on very cold snow or very aggressive snow. We have augmented the Zoom
waxes by adding two auxiliary hot waxes (Bullet and Psycho) to cover the entire snow crystal
and temperature range as shown in the chart below. In looking at snow hardness, you will note
that it is a shaded area (rather than a line) because the entire range of snow crystal shapes
(rather than just ice) is represented. The chart reveals that the ideal Zoom range is from 0°C
to -10°C, Bullet runs a bit colder and Psycho is used when you are crazy enough to go ski in
that cold. This is a huge improvement over the wax lines that ask you to use a different wax mix
every two or four degrees.
So DOMINATOR’s thermoactive system keeps costs down and maximizes the chances for a
successful wax choice.