The cross-country skiing competition season starts this weekend in Vuokatti. Fluoride creams can be used in the Finnish Cup, unlike in the World Cup. For Pohti Ski Team, the fluoride ban would have been expensive.
The beginning of the cross-country skiing season has been colored by the association’s financial problems and uncertainty about the functionality of the fluoride cream ban. These issues are on display, or at least in the background, also at the opening of Vuokatti’s Suomen Cup, where fluoride creams can be used.
National team skier Jasmin Kähärä handling skis has become even more familiar than usual in recent weeks.
– A couple of weeks ago, my father and I cleaned and processed quite a few pairs of skis to make them fluoride-free, and hopefully they are now clean enough to pass through the device.
Allowing fluoride on domestic slopes causes the most work for the national team skiers. They have to think about whether during the season they will use two separate vehicles at home and on international tracks, or otherwise ensure that there will be no fluoridation on the World Cup tracks.
For example Krista Pärmäkoski has told that does not intend to use fluoride creams in the Finnish Cup competition before the World Cup in Ruka (HS). Skiing and jumping in Ruka at the end of November.
In the national team, the skier himself is responsible for making sure that the skis come clean to the truck, says a member of the maintenance team and maintenance manager of Pohti Ski Team Pyhäjärvi Jarkko Huttunen.
There was a sigh of relief in Pyhäjärvi
The Suomen cup is an important competition tour and a showcase for domestic ski clubs, some of which have a lot of fluoride creams in their warehouses. A round of calls to Finland’s leading clubs showed that practices vary, but skiers and their clubs can have thousands of euros tied up in fluorine creams.
In the case of Pohti Ski Team Pyhäjärvi, we are talking about even bigger sums. The Finnish Ski Association’s permissive fluoride policy was received with relief in Pyhäjärvi, says maintenance manager Jarkko Huttunen.
– Yes, this was a great thing, when we also have around 50,000 euros in cream stock, which we couldn’t have used then.
There are 20 skiers in Pohti Ski Team’s stable, for whom the club offers creams and skis centrally.
– Athletes have around 60 pairs of skis available, and powder creams can be used up a lot during the weekend, depending on the weather, Huttunen calculates.
Allowing fluoride creams was also positive news for the FSS maintenance team of the Swedish-speaking skiing association. Last season, skiers from different clubs purchased almost a thousand pairs of skis from us and our partner, says the maintenance manager Johan Öhberg.
– Without anything else, the fluoride ban would have had financial effects, probably closer to ten thousand than thousands of euros.
On the other hand, the fluoride creams on the national team expired after last spring, says the person who was still the lubrication manager at the time Mika Venäläinen.
– In the spring, I counted the amount of powder creams in the maintenance truck in Salpauselka, which was around 60,000 euros, and now the creams are banned from use.
Extensive testing is not yet possible in Finland
Why has Finland taken a different line from the FIS World Cup fluoride rules? The manager of the Suomen Cup competition series can answer that Hannu Koivusalo.
– It is impossible to do tests when there is not enough equipment, it is that simple, Koivusalo states.
He says that the testing system is in use at the Ruka and Lahti World Cups and in December at the Skandinavia Cup Vuokatti competition.
According to Koivusalo, it was not possible to transfer the international schedule of the fluoride ban to domestic tracks.
– Its implementation on this schedule, especially nationally, would have been completely unrealistic.
The International Ski Federation confirmed this season’s fluoride ban last March. In Finland, the goal of the ski association is to start monitoring and introduce a ban during the 2024–2025 season.
The International Ski Federation already said in 2019 that it would ban fluorine creams in the world cups of skiing, but the full ban will only come into effect now. Initially, the background is an EU-level decision related to fluorine compounds, and their health and environmental effects.
Now I have experience with fluoride control and my first win has already come in the Alpine Skiing World Cup. Two-time Olympic and World Cup medalist Ragnhild Mowinckel was rejected on October 28 in the Sölden giant slalom that opened the World Cup.
The Finnish Skiing Cup will be shown on the channels this weekend. Saturday’s sprints from 11:55 on TV2, Areena and the app. On Sunday, the program includes relays at 11:55 (women) and 1:05 p.m. (men).