With a desire to have more competitive and technically-advanced sleds to compete head-to-head with the international elite, USA Luge partnered with Dow (NYSE:DOW), Worldwide Olympic Partner and “The Official Chemistry Company” of the Olympic Games, to re-engineer the team’s sleds leading up to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Leveraging its industry-leading capabilities in Materials Science and Research & Development, Dow developed a brand-new, made in America sled at its Michigan Operations’ Core R&D division, in Midland.
Having Dow as a technical partner since 2007, USA Luge had previous collaborations with the Company on spot projects. But the game-changing program to upgrade the team’s equipment for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games began in February 2012, with specific emphasis on updating the kuffens – or runners – of the sleds. As the work between Duncan Kennedy, head of technical development for USA Luge, and Dow’s world-class scientists began to evolve, the partners quickly realized that much more could be done to update the sleds.
Focusing on material selection – over 20 different materials had been tested -, design, manufacturing and extensive testing in laboratory and on the track with athletes, Dow has developed a faster, replicable, more consistent and reliable sled for USA Luge, delivering innovations that help maximize athlete performance.
“In a sport timed to the 1/1000th of a second, every detail counts. Our team needed the precision, consistency and repeatability provided through applied research and modern manufacturing processes - components added by Dow and its team of world-class scientists. Through our partnership with Dow, we are much closer to a more consistent, perfectly tuned and faster sled,” said Kennedy, a three-time Olympian.To re-engineer the sleds, Dow’s Materials Science team leveraged technologies and composites applied to customers in strategic markets like Automotive, Infrastructure, Transportation, Building & Construction. The solutions tailored for USA Luge have shown improved performance versus the materials previously used for the sleds - mainly steel and wood.