The king of ski wax: Reinhard Kronbichler
It's only a few milliseconds that decide victory and defeat. In order to stand on the podium as world champion in the end, every detail has to fit. An almost invisible, but nevertheless one of THE decisive factors: the wax. Reinhard "Reini" Kronbichler from Ebbs in Tyrol is a ski wax expert: Austria's best athletes entrust their cross-country skis to him. In the interview, he explains to us how he gets the last decisive milliseconds out of the skis.
4 decades of experience
Reini, who is a native of Ebbs near Kufstein, looks back on more experience as a "wax master" than he can tell us. He has been waxing cross-country skis for 40 years and is also the managing director of HWK Skiwax. He has spent countless hours on the best preparation for skis, made thousands of tests, improved the waxing technique more and more. All this is the crucial experience from which Austria's top athletes now benefit. When they strap on their skis for competition, they can rely on it: It shouldn't fail because of the wax.
Reinhad "Reini" Kronbichler and colleague Andreas Fuchs in the wax truck in the service area in Seefeld
Reinhad "Reini" Kronbichler and colleague Andreas Fuchs in the wax truck in the service area in Seefeld.
A science in itself
When Reini lists his work steps, you can almost get dizzy: Whoever thinks that it's done with 1 or 2 layers of wax and some polishing is mistaken. "The first thing is to put the base wax on the ski," Reini begins. "Then it is ironed in and cools down. Then it's cleaned with a grooved pencil and brushed out with the metal brush until the structure is exposed. Then the fluor powder goes on top and is ironed in." So far, so clear, right? Reini goes on to explain, "Then the powder is flowed and you let it cool down again. When it's cold, the wax is taken off and a hand texture is put on it to the particular grind of the ski. Because each ski already has a grind, you can imagine it like a pattern or a profile on a car tire. Then the wax is taken off again and brushed out again until the structure is exposed again."
Already a lot of work steps - but Reini is far from finished!
"Then there are also liquid waxes. You can also apply these. But you have to see whether it makes the ski better or not. You just have to try it out. Liquid wax has a short mileage. You can't go far with it, it wears off quickly. But the skis often go better with it and if you have a faster ski for only 4 or 5 kilometers, it often makes a difference whether you win or not. Whether the other guy catches you or not."
Mit Tests zum besten Ski
In addition to preparing the skis, Reini and his team carry out extensive tests. Which products are the best? What works best on the particular snow? "We have eight pairs of skis for that," Reini explains. "There are different products all over the top. Then two cross-country skiers come and test the skis. To do this, they ski downhill together: they lean against each other and ski at the same pace. Then they go apart and it is seen which ski goes better. Then the two skiers switch skis and the test is repeated so that everyone has each ski once. That way you know which ski is better. It's a figure-eight system, it's done until the best ski is left."
These tests have caught on with the pros: "All the teams at the World Championships do it this way," Reini reveals. "It's how they determine what's best." Of course, the test results are always meticulously documented: "There's a report. You write on it which base wax was used, which powder won, with how many degrees I ironed it in, that I flowed it. So I know exactly what the processing method is." In addition, the day, date and test time are documented: "The conditions change non-stop with every hour," says Reini. Of course, this all affects the wax and must be taken into account. Not only is the air temperature measured, but the snow temperature also determines which wax ultimately works best.
Preparing the perfect cross-country ski is a science of its own. It's a good thing that there are professionals like Reini, who support our athletes with decades of experience - and bring them almost invisibly and in the background a little closer to victory!
Seefeld 2019: All info at a glance