US Debuts Carbon Fiber Bobsled Designed by BMW

Team USA's carbon fiber bobsled

Team USA’s new two-man carbon fiber bobsled designed by BMW.

The US Men’s Two-man Bobsled Team tested its new carbon fiber bobsled designed by BMW in International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (FIBT) competition Jan. 19 in Igls, Austria, and piloted the prototype to a 14th-place finish.

Carbon Fiber Bobsled

“Sometimes you have to take a big risk to prepare for the future,” Holcomb said after the event in a Team USA release. “I wanted to race it, because we only get six training runs in St. Moritz. I wanted the extra runs in the sled, because it’ll take a little time to figure it out. I don’t know any sled project that comes out of the box and wins, so we knew we might have to lose before we can win.”

BMW utilized the experience of its BMWi Division — the electric vehicle arm — in the carbon fiber production and prototyping. The lightweight and stiff composite materials allowed fabricators to balance the weight of the sled, lowering its center of gravity while meeting regulations.

Steven Holcomb and Curt Tomasevicz, currently ranked sixth in the world, had some issues fitting into the sled’s narrow dimensions, which led to early wall contact and lost time. They hoped to get in a “practice” run before Saturday’s FIBT World Championships in St. Moritz, Switzerland. The team’s primary goal, however, was to start practicing with the new carbon fiber bobsled before the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, Russia.

“The results of our testing thus far have been promising, but the true test of a bobsled’s speed is determined in competition,” coach Brian Shimer said before the race. “… We need to test it under race conditions to see what improvements to make for next season.”

Next year Holcomb and Tomasevicz will try to end an American Olympic medal drought in the event — Since taking silver in the 1952 Oslo, Norway games, the US has not finished on the podium.

NOTES: The run in Igls, Austria, 1,334 yards long, is one of just 14 world-wide sanctioned for FIBT competition. … The US won the first two Olympic two-man bobsled competitions, in 1932 and 1936, but has been shut out since. … Holcomb won the 2012 FIBT World Championship with partner Steven Langton in Lake Placid, N.Y. Holcomb and Tomasevicz were also part of the 2009 FIBT World Championship four-man team.

(Photo credit/Todd Bissonette for BMW)

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