The prospects of British success in the next winter Olympics will get a boost this week as trials begin in Austria of a new skeleton bob sled designed at Nottingham University.
Combining research expertise and British Aerospace manufacturing knowhow, a project team searched for ways of reducing the friction between the sled runners and the ice surface in a bid to increase speed by vital fractions of a second.
Bob skeleton, pictured right, is the sport of riding a one-man sled head first and face down from the top of a bob sleigh run. Riders reach 90 mph and experience five times the force of gravity when cornering during an average 70 second one-mile run.
The British World Cup squad is rated number four in the world but to stand a realistic chance at the Olympics the team must match the best equipment of its rivals. If the Nottingham trials are promising the new sleds will be used throughout this year's World Cup series by British riders at events in Canada, the United States, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and France.