LAKE PLACID - After nearly 20 years as the official race team for USA Bobsled, the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, Inc. is moving on.
The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project terminated its agreement with the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (USBSF) on April 30, but it was hoped that a new agreement might be reached when the two groups met on June 17.
Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, Inc. President Phil Kurze announced late last week that the organization would no longer be working with USA Bobsled. Kurze also alerted the USBSF that designer and builder of the Bo-Dyn bobsleds and longtime friend of USA Bobsled, Bob Cuneo, has retired.
The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project was integral in helping the USA-1 four-man bobsled team of Steven Holcomb, Justin Olsen, Steve Mesler and Curtis Tomasevicz, pictured here, win the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
(Enterprise file photo — Lou Reuter)
"It's the end of an era," said USBSF CEO Darrin Steele. "Geoff Bodine had a vision of building the fastest sleds in the world and Bob Cuneo helped make that vision a reality. We are forever grateful for the work these two individuals have done for this organization and this sport."
The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project helped the U.S. team rise from obscurity to fame. Bodine and Cuneo were honorary team members at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, where they watched U.S. athletes race to gold and bronze medals in their American-made sleds.
Bodine, a NASCAR veteran, created the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project in 1992 after watching the U.S. team compete in European-made sleds. Bodine teamed with sled designer Cuneo of Chassis Dynamics on a quest to build "Made in America" sleds, creating some of the fastest sleds in the world to help lift the U.S. team onto the podium.
Without Bodine's motivation to create American-made sleds 19 years ago, the coveted Olympic gold medal might still be a lofty dream instead of a reality. The USA four-man bobsled team of Steven Holcomb, Steve Mesler, Justin Olsen and Curt Tomasevicz made history in Vancouver after winning the first gold medal in 62 years for the U.S. team.
The squad wrapped Bodine in an American flag for photos following their winning run and later draped their Olympic gold medals around Bodine's neck in recognition of his dedication to the program.
"The partnership between the USBSF and the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project has been tremendously beneficial to us," Steele said. "They have been a big part of our success and we now own the best fleet of bobsleds in the world."
Steele received an email from Kurze in April notifying the federation that the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project plans to continue building sleds, but they would be unable to remain the official race team for the U.S. bobsled program. According to the termination letter, the agreement ended three years early due to concerns over protecting Bo-Dyn's intellectual property and financial challenges.
Steele and USBSF Chairman John Rosen met with members of the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project last week to discuss details for a new agreement. The Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project stated their desire to separate from the federation and form a club team of selected U.S. athletes. Bo-Dyn also offered to make modifications on six of 15 World Cup sleds in the U.S. fleet to satisfy a proposed rule change by the international federation at no cost to the USBSF. The main disagreement stemmed from Bo-Dyn's request for ownership of the top three national team bobsleds, including the gold medal winning Night Train four-man bobsled. The USBSF declined the offer and stated that while the deal was cost effective, it fails to meet the core mission of the USBSF.
"I have to admit, the price was right in the short term, but our mission is to enable U.S. athletes to achieve sustained competitive excellence in Olympic competition," Steele said. "We have a responsibility to our athletes and the country to select teams and allocate resources based on performance, not club designation. At the end of the day, it just would not have been a smart decision, especially when you consider our investment in the program over the years."
The USBSF provided roughly $1 million in grants to the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project over the past five years. The USBSF will maintain ownership of the World Cup bobsleds and is seeking a new technology partner to help team USA make innovative technological advances moving toward 2014.
"It would have been nice to reach an agreement, but all good things must end eventually," Steele said. "With all that Bob Cuneo and Geoff Bodine have accomplished, no one can fault them for walking away on top. They will always have a place on this team and we wish them the best."
In order to continue the tradition of success the U.S. squad has achieved, thanks in part to the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, the USBSF is seeking a technology partner and official racing team to join USA Bobsled in an effort to sweep the podium in 2014. Interested parties should contact USBSF CEO Darrin Steele at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Report provided by the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Federation