2018 Olympics: How the wax on an Olympian's skis and snowboard can be the difference between gold and going home empty

Every millisecond counts when an athlete has his or her shot to win the gold at the Olympics.

So whether it be Mikaela Shiffrin’s skis for slalom or Chloe Kim’s snowboard for the halfpipe, the art of waxing is crucial to the success of every skier and snowboarder competing in Pyeongchang.

“It’s extremely hard to make up a deficit of having bad skis when everyone else has good skis, and waxing is a big part of that,” Shane MacDowell, the Head Cross-Country Ski Coach at the New York Ski Education Foundation, tells FOX News. "There are all different types of waxes for skis so matching that wax with the snow type and temperature is extremely important.”

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MacDowell uses an iron to heat the wax and drip it down the ski, and then melts the wax into tiny pores onto the base of the ski. “The tiny pores make the wax adhere and actually react to the snow,” MacDowell explains.

Once the wax has cooled, MacDowell uses a scraper to remove the excess wax from the base of the ski. He then takes a metal brush to remove the solid wax out of the ski.

MacDowell says taking the solid wax off the ski is critical because “if there’s wax left on the ski, it will slow the ski down, so it’s a pretty delicate balance of the wax you’re taking out of the ski and the wax you leave on the ski.”

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So what are the final steps of the process? Check out our interview and demonstration with Shane MacDowell to learn more about the art of ski waxing.