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Dow Innovation Helping USA Luge Slide Faster

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MIDLAND (WWJ) – Dow Chemical Co. said Tuesday it had partnered with Luge USA to re-engineer the team’s sleds leading up to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

The aim, of course, is more competitive and technically advanced sleds.

Dow says it has developed a brand new, made in America sled at its Michigan Operations research and development center in Midland.

USA Luge has had down as a technical partner since 2007 and has collaborated on several spot projects. But the overall program to upgrade the team’s equipment began more than a year ago, in February 2012, with a project to update the sleds’ runners, called kuffens.

As the work between Duncan Kennedy, head of technical development for USA Luge, and Dow scientists began to evolve, the partners quickly realized that much more could be done to update the sleds.

Focusing on material selection — more than 20 different materials had been tested — design, manufacturing and extensive testing in laboratory and on the track with athletes, Dow has developed a faster, replicable, more consistent and reliable sled for USA Luge, delivering innovations that help maximize athlete performance.

“In a sport timed to the 1,000th of a second, every detail counts,” said Kennedy, a former Olympian. “Our team needed the precision, consistency and repeatability provided through applied research and modern manufacturing processes — components added by Dow and its team of world-class scientists. Through our partnership with Dow, we are much closer to a more consistent, perfectly tuned and faster sled.”

To re-engineer the sleds, Dow’s Materials Science team used technologies and composites applied to customers in strategic markets like automotive, infrastructure, transportation, buildings and construction. The systems tailored for USA Luge have shown improved performance versus the materials previously used for the sleds — mainly steel and wood.

The results started to show quickly: two USA Luge athletes competing with sleds enhanced by Dow technologies improved their times toward the end of the 2012-2013 season. Now the team will have the opportunity to compete with new, American-developed sleds during the upcoming season, which will peak with the Olympic Games in February.

“Dow is applying world-class chemistry and engineering that help make the Games more sustainable and higher-performing. This is a great example of how Dow delivers innovations that improve day-to-day lives,” said George Hamilton, vice president of Dow Olympic Operations. “Our diversified portfolio and the customer-focused work of our scientists enable Dow to address the toughest challenges with unique, tailor-made solutions for the most specific needs.”

Now that the technical design has been developed and tested, USA Luge and Dow are letting America decide which paint pattern for the sleds and race suit the athletes will use at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Dow has developed four different design patterns, while Valiant Entertainment, leading comic book publisher and USA Luge sponsor, has created race suits and helmets to complement each. From now through August 23, fans can go to http://www.usaluge.org to vote for which combination — Silver Wave, Stargate, Flagship or Racer — they want USA Luge to use as they represent America on the world stage in February 2014.

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