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Engineering Aids Olympians

The Winter Olympics began last week, and I’ve already got a DVR full of hockey, figure skating, and the jaw-dropping biathlon, in which determined cross-country skiers huff and puff up steep hills and then shoot at things.

Ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson practices in a modified wind tunnel. Image: Popular Science

Popular Science is running a nice little series of articles on some of the engineering that has helped the U.S. team. The ski jumpers, for example, have been using a wind tunnel in Utah to better perfect their form. Ski jumping may be the closest thing to flying that doesn’t involve wings, an airplane, or a parachute. The U.S. women’s team has been using a tunnel near their base in Utah (built by Darko Technologies) to adjust their stance and positioning. While the tunnel was originally designed for racing vehicles, Darko has added an elevated platform with ski bindings and a device that projects lift and drag data onto the floor so skiers can see it in real time.

The U.S. bobsled team, meanwhile, is hoping to boost its performance (the two-person team hasn’t medaled since 1952) by hiring BMW engineers to design a new carbon fiber-based sled. The designers created an adaptable steering system that can be custom matched to each athlete. Check out Desktop Engineering’s coverage of the aerodynamics behind the bobsled here.

Source: Popular Science


About Brian Albright

Brian Albright is a contributing editor to Digital Engineering. Send e-mail about this article to DE-Editors@digitaleng.news.