From working in a ski shop as a teenager to getting British Snowboard Cross athletes’ boards race-ready, JP Trottier has seen it all. In our latest Team-Behind-the-Team blog, he reveals what it takes to be a Wax Tech to some of the world’s top racers.
How and why did you get into waxing?
“I started working in a ski shop in Montréal at 15 years old. I then moved to Whistler at 21 and that’s where I started to do racing service for Rossignol.”
What are the main duties of a wax technician?
“I’m responsible for everything that has to do with the boards, from structuring the base to the final touch at the start of a race.”
What is the full process of waxing and how long does it take to get the athletes ready? Does wax need to be tailored to each individual athlete?
“The full process to get a race board ready to hit the slopes is very tedious. Everything has to be perfect on it, from the edges filed at the right angles the polishing of the sidewalls to the base preparation. Obviously, I can’t reveal the full process; as a famous spy in your country says, if I told you, then I’d have to kill you!”
What kind of knowledge do you need to do the job well?
“A lot of technicians are ex-racers or coaches that learn under an experienced tech. Others, like me, came from working in ski shops and learning a lot of skills from different people.”
How do you adapt to different snow parameters and weather conditions around the world?
“We have tools to help us with weather and snow conditions. There’s also a lot of radar and satellite watching, especially when the conditions are uncertain. There are instances where I got up at 4:00AM to go outside and look at the weather and if needed, re-wax the boards.”
How much does waxing impact an athlete’s performance? Can it make or break a podium finish?
“At the World Cup level, having the right board with the right wax is mandatory. It won’t make you win a race, but it will make you lose it. Any tenth or hundredth of a second that you can gain will only help you.”