Design, build, and test of a bobsled simulator for olympic athletes

Mark Wacker, Arthur Erdman, Troy Nickel, Marie Guion Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In a bobsled race, the difference between a winning and losing time can be less than thousandths of a second. These fractions of seconds are typically gained or lost at the start. The athletes must be keenly aware of their time and ability to accelerate the sled. Since bobsledders will only complete three or four runs a day during training, optimization of their mechanics and timing must all be done in a few training sessions. Also, the bobsled tracks are only available for a portion of the year and there is great demand for the facility, when seasonal temperatures allow the ice to be maintained. Unlike other sports they cannot rely upon "muscle memory," where optimization is achieved through repetition. The "Bobsled Start Simulator" was designed to give bobsledders a tool to optimize the start variables without having to train on a track. The result was a high-tech treadmill with a computerized velocity control, a bobsled handle attached to a six-degree of freedom load cell and an adjustable attachment mechanism for mounting to the load cell and bobsled handle to the treadmill. The device was tested and proved successful in improving not only pushing force but also timing for six U.S. Olympic Team athletes. The work presented in this paper was completed in 2001 for the 2002 Olympics. At the time, the U.S. Olympic Bobsled Committee asked us to not make the information public until after the 2006 Olympics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-102
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Devices, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007


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