Bobsledding is not for the faint of heart. As the human element is fine-tuned, renewed focus is being placed on the sleds themselves and the technology behind them.
If man were to make the ultimate sledding machine, what would that look like?
Steven Holcomb and the rest of Team USA will debut the new BMW sled in the first day of 2-man competition tomorrow, looking to end that gold medal drought dating back to 1936.
“I think a lot of people were kind of shocked that BMW (a German automaker) is supporting an American team. But it’s BMW North America who we’re partnering with. They came to us and said hey, what can we do to help you guys? And we were like, you guys design aerodynamic machines, how about making one of those for us?” Holcomb said.
Michael Scully is the creative director for BMW Designworks, His task was to create an improved two-man bobsled for the men and women of Team USA.
The first step actually was to get into the immersed in the world of bobsledding. I took a ride down the Lake Placid track. It was one of the more impactful traumatic experiences that I’ve ever had in my life,” Scully said.
Coming up with a design for the new sleds was a team effort, but Scully relied heavily on the feedback of Holcomb.
“Steve has the unbelievable ability to deliver exactly the same push every single time and then deliver a very consistent drive each time,” Scully said about working with Holcomb.
The design team introduced dense carbon fiber materials, tried multiple aerodynamic shapes, and put the sleds in wind tunnels. It was a two years labor of love that will be put to the ultimate test in Sochi.
“The Olympics to me really are the purest representation of sport and to see these athletes pursue that goal with such a clarity and purpose is incredibly special,” Scully said.