U.S. Olympic Team Gets BMW Bobsleds: Page 2


The bobsled athletes helped in the design process to make sure the new zippier sled actually worked. It took hundreds of trials to get things just right.

"It's harmonizing all these elements in subtle ways to increase speed," Scully said. "You have to look at it holistically, the equipment and how the athletes interact with it, and how they load."

Four years ago, the U.S. four-man bobsled got a big design change courtesy of former NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine. The "Night Train" used race car technology to allow driver Steve Holcomb bring the U.S. team a gold medal at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Bodine says the "Night Train II" has a few new surprises for Sochi.

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The new four-man sled is 50 pounds lighter and also uses the auto-claved carbon fiber to make a tougher, more robust sled. That should help on the Sochi track, according to Bodine.

"Its more technical,'" Bodine said. The corners aren't as dramatic or as scary as Lake Placid (home of the U.S. training center). "In Sochi, it's a more gentle track, but the drivers have to be more precise steering in the corners to maintain the speed."

After finishing the two-man sled design, BMW provided the U.S. team with six bobsleds, three each for the men's and women's squads. There are already signs that the new rides may be living up to their promise. Holcomb won five of eight races on the two-man World Cup circuit, taking the overall title last weekend. On the women's side, Elana Myers and Aja Evans took second in the World Cup overall.

Bodine cautioned, however, that the U.S. teams do not have a monopoly on advanced technology.

"If you beat them," Bodine said about the European bobsled teams. "They will start copying you."

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