Design, Build, and Test of a Bobsled Simulator for Olympic Athletes

[+] Author and Article Information
Mark Wacker1

 University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455

Arthur Erdman, Marie Guion Johnson

 University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455

Troy Nickel

Bose Systems


Presently a Guidant employee.

J. Med. Devices 1(1), 96-102 (Aug 15, 2006) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2360950 History: Received May 09, 2006; Revised August 15, 2006

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.

Copyright © 2007 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.



Grahic Jump Location
Figure 1

Researchers demonstrating the system at the Minnesota State Fair (2001)

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 2

System schematic

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 3

Load cell and bobsled handle

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 4

Motor controller diagram

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 5

USA Mens’ 4 Man Bodsled team start data

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 6

Curve fit to USA Men’s 4 Man Bodsled team start data

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 7

Scaled velocity profiles

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 8

Original data analysis program. The three plots show the force in the horizontal direction (top plot), the side force, and the vertical force (lower plot).

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 9

Sample impulse output including the impulse at each second and the total impulse at each second and the total impulse

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 10

Sample impulse output

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 11

Final program display

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 12

Athlete No. 1 impulse comparisons

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 13

Athlete No. 2’s trial data

Grahic Jump Location
Figure 14

USA men’s team comparison



Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging and repositioning the boxes below.

Related Journal Articles
Related eBook Content
Topic Collections

Sorry! You do not have access to this content. For assistance or to subscribe, please contact us:

  • TELEPHONE: 1-800-843-2763 (Toll-free in the USA)
  • EMAIL: asmedigitalcollection@asme.org
Sign In