The US Skeleton team visited the A2 Wind Tunnel in Mooresville, NC to do some testing before the October season start and we were there to see what was going on.
The team brought athletes Matt Antoine, John Daly, Kyle Tress and Katie Uhlaender, 2 coaches and other support folks for a 2-day test and it was surprising to learn that this was the very first time for these athletes of the US Skeleton Team to be in the wind tunnel. Most of the skeleton runs are about a mile in length and take just under a minute so fractions of a second are crucial in this Olympic winter sport.
Testing in the tunnel was done at 60mph, 70mph and 80 mph and their drag numbers were very low. Matt Antoine at 6'2" and 185 pounds has a very good physique for this sport and his numbers were quite impressive. Translated to typical cycling 30mph test speeds he only has about 80 watts of drag.
Most of the testing was done a 0 degrees but they wanted to see some 10 degree yaw tests too since athletes may slide out a bit in some turns. But general body, head and hand position was mostly tested at A2 while we were there. There were also some equipment tests scheduled but we were understandably not allowed access to those.
All images © Herbert Krabel / slowtwitch.com
These US skeleton team athletes offer roughly the same drag as a wheel alone.
Dave Salazar from A2 goes over the testing procedure with 28-year old Matt Antoine who hails from Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin.
Assistant coach Matt Lid gives final instructions as various media folks look on.
Very focused and ready in the A2 Wind Tunnel.
The testing sets must have seemed endless for these athletes who are used to 1-minute outings.
Some feedback for Matt Antoine between sets.
Head coach Tuffy Latour and Grant Schaffner of ProtoStar Engineering look on and take notes.
2-time Olympian Katie Uhlaender with her custom painted Uvex helmet. Unlike cycling though, in skeleton racing helmets are virtually standard.
Hans deBot of deBot Tech inc does the carbon manufacturing for skeleton and bob sleds. Here he holds the 70 pond sled of Katie Uhlaender.
Matt Lund and Tuffy Latour switch over the saddle of the sled for Kyle Tress who will be next in the tunnel.
We are not sure how athletes spent time waiting before they had smart phones. Here John Daly and Katie Uhlaender get caught up on the latest.
Dave Salazar of A2 talks with 32-year old Kyle Tress of Ewing, NJ about what will happen in the tunnel.
Kyle Tress is ready for A2 Wind Tunnel action.
Katie Uhlaender looks at the control panel as Kyle Tress does his thing in the tunnel.
Meanwhile a very hungry Matt Antoine finally gets to eat his lunch.
Coach Tuffy Latour shares images.
A bit of rest for Kyle Tress.
But it is on again in no time.
Looking at Kyle Tress through the wind tunnel cameras.
Katie Uhlaender in the real environment right after the start.