Uihlein funds luge wind tunnel trip

LAKE PLACID — The Uihlein Foundation in Lake Placid has continued its support of USA Luge with the recent announcement of grant money to fund an all-important session in the San Diego Wind Tunnel on Dec. 10.

Time spent at the facility has produced medals in the past two Winter Games, with Erin Hamlin racing to a 2014 bronze medal, followed by Chris Mazdzer’s silver in 2018. USA Luge has been testing in San Diego since 2004.

  A multitude of World Cup and World Championship podium results occurred in between those Games. Now USA Luge is eyeing continued success, but it would not be possible without the assistance of the foundation and wind tunnel.

“I want to thank the entire Uihlein Foundation Board for the generous contribution in support of Sled Project Research and Development,” said Gordy Sheer, Director of Marketing and Sponsorship for USA Luge and a 1998 Olympic silver medalist. “Their many years of loyal support have been a huge part of the team’s success.”

With the financial assistance of the Uihlein Foundation, USA Luge sports science has been enhanced significantly in recent years in a sport that’s timed to the thousandth of a second.

This partnership also enabled team representatives to journey to the San Diego Wind Tunnel in July to test race suit fabrics and dial in the aerodynamic riding position of 2018 Olympic silver medalist Chris Mazdzer from Saranac Lake. The upcoming December session will do the same for Mazdzer’s 2014 and 2018 Olympic teammate Tucker West, of Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Additionally, USA Luge will test new concepts and protocols. 

“We’ll continue testing race suit materials in San Diego,” said USA Luge Sport Program Director Mark Grimmette, an Olympic silver and bronze medalist. “We’ll also continue to work on optimizing athlete aerodynamics through sled set up and athlete position.”

The San Diego Wind Tunnel helped to usher in the “Jet Age” in 1947, and remains to this day a vital national asset available to the aerospace industry, building the technologies that will surely shape the future of air and space travel in the years to come.

“The folks at the San Diego Wind Tunnel are great to USA Luge,” Sheer said. “We’re honored to be at the best wind tunnel in the country for sports aerodynamic testing.”

In addition, the facility and crew provide aero-testing for athletes involved in cycling and sliding sports. In addition to USA Luge, the U.S. Olympic Cycling and Ski Teams frequently utilize the facility to develop specialized equipment and to optimize their technique as a part of their training to compete on the world stage.

The American team has eight athletes on the World Cup tour which opened  in Igls, Austria on Nov. 24-25, and will race in Lake Placid Dec. 15-16.