The science of speed

Calgary’s blade running expert is trying to find a way to help Canadianathletes through studying the blades and runners on bobsleighs.

Calgary’s blade running expert is trying to find a way to help Canadian athletes through studying the blades and runners on bobsleighs.

Louis Poirier is a University of Calgary physicist and his research on the runners or blades of bobsleighs could help launch Canadian athletes to the top of the podium.

“(The runners) are probably the most critical piece of equipment that we have as bobsledders because that’s what is actually touching the ice and that’s where we really stand to have the most improvement,” said Poirier, himself a former bobsledder.

Poirier and his team are trying to determine how they can reduce the friction between the blade and ice, therefore increasing the sled velocity.

After the 2006 Olympics the sport’s governing body announced the sleds steel runners had to be standardized; meaning all competitors need to fashion the blade medal in the same way.

“We had probably 30 to 50 sets of different runners here in Calgary, all those runners had to be junked,” said Poirier. “Building up a new stock pile of equipment is quite difficult and we want to have very competitive equipment for our athletes.”

Poirier said his research won’t conclude until after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

 
 
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