Polymers on snow: Toward skiing faster



In this study, small-scale model skis running down a Nordic ski track were used to investigate the tribological properties of polymer ski soles of a wide range of chemical compositions and surface structures on snow at temperatures of −2 to −4 °C. It was found that ski soles consisting of smooth hydrophilic films of an arithmetical mean surface roughness of less than 0.2 μm experience a considerably higher friction with snow than flat hydrophobic films indicating that for such soles, capillary bridging of the lubricating water film between the snow and the ski base is the dominating friction mechanism. An optimum surface roughness of the ski soles was detected —in the range of 0.2–1 μm. At this surface roughness, sliders are always fast, essentially independent of chemical composition of the ski sole and surface topology. At higher surface roughness, it was found that friction between polymer and snow increases again, especially for structured surfaces that are not aligned in the gliding direction. © 2010 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 48: 1543–1551, 2010