Bromley Technologies - Rotherham
Bromley Technologies - Rotherham

Portable Metrology Optimizes Olympic Skeleton Sleds

Bromley Technologies Saves Hours (and Tenths of a Second) when Preparing Olympic Skeleton Sleds Using a Portable Measuring Arm from Hexagon Metrology.

It is ironic that skeleton racing was born in Switzerland yet the speeds that the racers reach today as they hurtle down the track (up to 145 km/h) would actually qualify them for a heavy speeding fine on Switzerland’s motorways. “And not just that”, says Kristan Bromley, World, European and British Skeleton Champion and CEO of Bromley Technologies, “we are also subjected to forces of up to 5G as we go around corners. I wouldn’t want to do that on a motorway!”

Skeleton racing is a high-speed winter sliding sport. The athletes ride a small sled, lying face down and head first. While an early version of Skeleton originates on a Swiss track, built
in the 1880s near to Davos and Klosters, Skeleton has become more and more popular in the intervening years and has been a permanent Olympic discipline since 2002.

“The versatility of the arm made it perfect for our needs...gaining performance is all in the detail.”

Becoming Dr Ice

However, Kristan Bromley’s path to world glory was as winding as an Alpine pass. Known as “Dr Ice” for the PhD degree he earned with a thesis about the performance of Skeleton sleds, Kristan originally trained to be a mechanical engineer. His career started at British Aerospace, but as enthusiasm for Skeleton racing became outright speed on the track, within a year he had turned professional athlete and become British number 1. He was British champion for the first time in 1997, won his first world cup in 1999 and became European champion in 2004 and 2005, and World Champion in 2008.

In 2000, Kristan founded Bromley Technologies with his brother Richard, with the aim of building the fastest sleds in the world and promoting the sport to the wider public. Kristan, like Formula 1’s Bruce McLaren before him, now bids for glory on something that he developed. “I design it, Richard builds it then I test and race it”, he says.

For a sled to be fast down the track it must be energy efficient in every way. The sled has no active steering so the athlete uses shifts of his body weight and subtle body movements to steer left or right. Any sliding, skidding or unnecessary energy loss results in the loss of precious tenths of seconds. “To be honest you actually can’t see much when you’re cornering on a sled with your nose so close to the ground”, says Kristan Bromley. “The G forces are trying to push your head into the track, so you really need to feel that the sled is an extension of your body. However achieving that close relationship is extremely difficult because access to world-class tracks is so limited, so we now place huge importance on analysis and simulation. With Hexagon Metrology, we have found a partner that provides the
perfect tool for help us do that.” . . . . .

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