The Nordic Ski Jump at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, uses a glycol-based heat transfer fluid to keep the ramp surface frozen for competition.


In February 2010, the Dow Performance Fluids Business’ chemistry will be front and center at the Nordic Ski Jump Venue in Whistler, British Columbia, home of the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games. The Dow Chemical Company delivered and installed 900 gal of pure DOWFROST™ HD inhibited propylene glycol-based heat transfer fluid to the ski jump venue in late December 2007. Since then, the ski ramp has hosted several competitions leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Chemistry from Dow will help keep 100 meters of ice uniformly frozen on the Nordic Ski Jump ramp. It takes more than a frozen pond or the ability to simply freeze water to foster world-class winter sports competition. Whether for figure skating, speed skating, curling, or ski jumping, venue operators need the right equipment and the right chemistry to produce a frozen surface that helps ensure the best athletic performances. When scores and winning are down to fractions of an inch or thousandths of a second, the best surface that technology can deliver is required. Very exact temperature control is necessary to optimize sliding surfaces for skis, skates, or curling stones.

The Dow Chemical Company’s Performance Fluids business is the official heat transfer fluids supplier for the 2010 Vancouver Winter and Paralympic Games. At venues like the Nordic ski jump, chemistry from Dow is helping maintain surfaces for Olympic athletic competitions.

Keeping ski jump ramp conditions optimal

When hosting a successful ski jumping competition, he temperature of the track must be maintained as consistently as possible from top to bottom to provide a safe run with the same conditions for all jumpers.

However, environmental conditions can change significantly through the course of a day. A morning that begins at 10°F may reach 45° degrees in the afternoon. At air temperatures above approximately 38°, the ramp’s surface can begin to melt and accumulate moisture that will slow jumpers down, especially near the critical takeoff point at the bottom. Not only can this cost jumpers distance, it can also be dangerous.

“To ensure the best conditions, a ramp refrigeration system must be able to respond to changes in temperature and humidity of the surrounding air, as well as variations in the amount of direct sunlight the track is exposed to,” said Kevin Connor of Dow Chemical’s Technical Service Group for DOWFROST HD Fluid. “A system using chilled DOWFROST HD Fluid helps keep the temperature of sliding surfaces more uniform despite these varying conditions.

In this way, chemistry from Dow contributes to Olympic-level athletic performance.” Connor said that better performance is only one advantage of using an inhibited glycol heat transfer fluid such as DOWFROST HD Fluid at this and other winter sports venues. In addition to keeping temperatures uniformly cold, Connor said, this chemistry provides corrosion protection for pipes and pumps that other fluids do not. The fill in Vancouver will last for many years. In fact, the original fill will likely last for thirty years, if not longer, with proper maintenance. ES