What's 1650 m long, has a 114 m vertical drop, and supports an object that can reach a max. speed of 130 km/hr.? The answer is the bobsled run at San Sicario near Torino, Italy. The run, a concrete and steel structure, is covered with snow and then soaked with water. The bobsled, luge, and skeleton competitors slide on the resulting ice, powered only by gravity and their initial push-off at the start.
THE CHALLENGE Optimize the bends for an Olympic bobsled run
Before the February 2006 Olympics, officials wanted to optimize the bends in the run, so engineers from SeaTech Snc measured the vibration in the turns during a World Cup race held in January. The engineers created a triaxial sensor from three B12 acceleration transducers from HBM GmbH. This was clamped onto the free ends of the concrete steel reinforcement and then linked to an MGCplus amplifier system and notebook PC, sitting in the bed of a pickup truck. This arrangement allowed them to drive from measuring point to measuring point to acquire live test data.
The data obtained with 2- and 4-man bobsleds during the 23 runs of the World Cup race showed that the concrete structure exhibited only minor vibration behavior, which was the desired result.