Olympic medal-winning luge sled has technology behind it developed in Potsdam
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 6:09 am

POTSDAM -- Clarkson University associate professor of mechanical & aeronautical engineering Douglas Bohl was thrilled over the weekend when Chris Mazdzer, a regional U.S. Olympic luge athlete of Saranac Lake, won the first-ever singles medal in the sport for the United States.

Bohl, along with professor in engineering science simulation Brian Helenbrook, and master’s student Bryan Heckendorf, worked with the United States Luge Association (USLA) to create a portion of the sled Mazdzer rode to his silver-medal finish in Pyeongchang on Sunday.

“We are all very excited to see Chris win his medal. It was nice to know we helped Chris achieve the goals he has worked so hard toward in some way with our work,” said Bohl, who is a slider himself and has served as president of the Adirondack Luge Club. “Chris is a hard-working athlete who has a positive attitude and is great to work with. It was inspiring to watch him have this success and realize his dreams.”

Bohl, Helenbrook, and Heckendorf created a method by which the shell part of the sled could be designed and customized based on a slider.

“That shell was worked on mostly in 2013 and was fabricated in the fall of that year. It was too late to get onto the sleds in Sochi, but U.S. athletes used it the following year and since then,” Bohl said. “Our newer-generation shells were also in the Olympics this year, being used by Shiva Keshavan, the luger from India.”

The group at Clarkson continues to work with Olympian and former slider Duncan Kennedy of Lake Placid, developing several more shells for the custom luge sleds he creates.