North Carolina

USA Skeleton team to Test New Sleds in Mooresville Wind Tunnel

12 Sep, 2013

Four national team skeleton athletes will reveal the new ProtoStar V5 sled in Mooresville, North Carolina's A2 Wind Tunnel during test sessions on Thursday and Friday.  Two-time Olympian and 2012 World Champion Katie Uhlaender, 2010 Olympian John Daly and World Cup competitors Matt Antoine and Kyle Tress will spend two days testing the new sled setup under the guidance of head coach Tuffy Latour and driving coach Zach Lund.

"The U.S. program is proud to have sleds made in the USA, and our technology partners have put us in contention for the medals in Sochi 2014," said Tuffy Latour, skeleton head coach.  "We are fortunate to have the support of the many companies and businesses that have supplied us with their state of the art products to create our new ProtoStar V5 sled."

ProtoStar Engineering, Inc. teamed with Machintek Corporation, deBotech and Carpenter Technology Corporation to design and develop a new skeleton sled for the USA Skeleton team to use at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.  ProtoStar Engineering combines traditional engineering services with an innovative approach to product development out of their office in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Hans deBot at deBotech, a longtime partner of USA Bobsled & Skeleton, provides custom pods and quality carbon fiber and composite parts for the construction of the sled out of their headquarters in Mooresville.  Machintek, located close to ProtoStar Engineering in Cincinnati, offered their expertise in fabricating components.  Carpenter Technology Corporation, a leader in the development, manufacturing and distribution of stainless steels from their Wyomissing, Pa. headquarters, joined the sled project over the last quad and provides USA Skeleton with their top of the line products.  Charlotte, N.C. based tesa tape, inc., the leading manufacturer of self-adhesive product, donates their product to hold the padding of the sled together.

Dr. Grant Schaffner, engineer and co-founder of ProtoStar Engineering, helped the U.S. program create a sled technology program by collaborating on theories, design and construction with deBotech and Machintek Corporation before debuting the X2 sled at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.  Schaffner, who previously worked at the NASA Johnson Space Center as a contract scientist and engineer, was awarded the U.S. Olympic Committee's Doc Counsilman Science Award in 2010 for his contributions to the sport, and he has continued to push the boundaries over the last four years with hopes of helping the USA Skeleton team win gold in 2014. 

"The ProtoStar V5 is the culmination of five years of intense development effort," Schaffner said. "I credit the successes we have enjoyed and the performance gains we have made to the very close cooperation between the technology partners and the athletes, coaches and staff. The insights gained from countless hours of conversation, brainstorming and testing, and even from the 'bodystorming' in the form of sled runs performed by ProtoStar engineers, have paid high dividends.  This truly has been a team effort."

The ProtoStar V5 includes several innovative features that seek to maximize speed while maintaining controllability.  New high-strength steels have been incorporated that improves structural efficiency while enhancing the sled's ability to maintain momentum down the track.  Adjustable attachment features facilitate the process of customizing the sled and saddle to fit individual athletes.  The new pod incorporates design and fabrication changes that improve both its aerodynamics and robustness.

“ProtoStar Engineering, Machintek Corporation, deBotech, Carpenter Technology Corporation and tesa tape have given us the best equipment going into the Olympic season," Latour said.  "It's exciting to have such a world class team behind our athletes."

About the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation: The United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation, based in Lake Placid, N.Y., is the national governing body for the sports of bobsled and skeleton in the United States. The USBSF would like to thank its sponsors, suppliers and contributors for their support: BMW of North America, Under Armour, Kampgrounds of America, Vivat!, Global Forwarding, KBC Helmets, Boomerang Carnets, Latta Kefir, 24 Hour Fitness, Azad Watches, Park City Lodging, Inc., Ludus Tours, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Autism Speaks, EDAS/Ripxx, Tesa Tape, UberSense and Ferris Mfg. Corp. For more information, please visit the USBSF website at


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