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Wind Tunnel Helps Olympians Prepare for Competition

Bobsledders used the tunnel today but it's been available to cyclists like Kristin Armstrong

By R. Stickney
|  Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012  |  Updated 12:43 PM PDT
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When Olympic Gold Medal cyclist Kristin Armstrong broke her collarbone in a qualifying race, she headed to San Diego as part of her rehabilitation in preparation for London 2012.

Armstrong arranged for a visit to the San Diego Air and Space Museum’s Technology Center where she used the center’s wind tunnel to help recover from her injury in time for the Summer Games.

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On Wednesday, the center hosted another set of Olympic athletes this time, from the Winter Games.

Olympic Bobsledders Elana Meyers and Katie Eberling worked with engineers at the wind tunnel to test the aerodynamics of one of their competition sleds.

As athletes for London 2012 prepare for competition to begin in just 37 days, these winter athletes are using what tools they can to replicate the forces felt by bobsleds during a race.

"We travel on a bobsled on ice 75 - 90 mph sometimes,” Meyers said.

This was her first visit to the wind tunnel and she said it really offers an advantage in a sport where a medal could be won in hundredths a second.

“We're looking for every single inch to give us the most amount of speed,” Meyers said. “We need every advantage possible."

Meyers, who earned a bronze medal in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, said the readings the engineers receive could lead to changes in how athletes sit inside the sled or even the gear they wear during a race.

“We’re really excited to be at the San Diego wind tunnel and to have these resources available so we’re really looking forward to seeing what we can find out and to winning more medals in 2014,” she added.

The same wind tunnel has been used to help Olympic luge athletes as well as professional cyclists like seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.
 

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