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3M AND U.S. LUGE ASSOCIATION PARTNERS IN OLYMPIC GAMES INNOVATION

 3M AND U.S. LUGE ASSOCIATION PARTNERS IN OLYMPIC GAMES INNOVATION
 ST. PAUL, Minn., Jan. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Through the efforts of world-class athletes and 3M innovation, the U.S. Luge Team is headed for its best performance ever. Albertville, France, 1992 site of the 24th Winter Olympic Games, will witness some dramatic improvements in this little known winter sport.
 3M, an official sponsor of the U.S. Luge Team, has applied its technological expertise to four different elements of luge. These include: training, sled design, spikes and weights.
 Since 1988, 3M engineers and scientists have worked with coaches and athletes to improve the sport. A significant change involves the use of 35 percent denser and smaller weights in the construction of the athletes' vests. Traditionally, a vest, consisting of lead components, was bulky and uncomfortable. 3M's new design allows athletes more freedom of movement.
 "That's vital when you're traveling down a luge track at 80 miles an hour," said Bob Hughes, marketing director of the U.S. Luge Association (USLA). A second change in the sport highlights a new spike design for the gloves. In the past, spikes were made by hand, never the same twice and had to be sharpened before each race.
 3M engineers worked with the USLA coaches and athletes to develop a distinct spike design with maximum grip potential and sharpness retention. The metal spikes mounted in three fingertips on each hand are cut by a laser machining tool and bent to the proper angle to grab the ice.
 Spiked gloves help the sliders pull off the sled at the starting gate. After pulling off, sliders paddle the ice three or four times to increase their speed. This motion is extremely important. Peak acceleration can mean the difference between winning and losing the race.
 Another 3M innovation affecting the speed and acceleration is sled design. "The sled itself has become more aerodynamic," said Mark Reeves, 3M senior design engineer. "We use NASA wind tunnels to test the sled's resistance."
 Further alterations include the addition of 3M materials in the body ("pod"), runners ("kufens") and suspension system. The 1992 Olympic Games mark the first time the U.S. Luge Team has used American- made sleds. Although each athlete chooses his own sled, about half of this year's singles athletes selected 3M components. Following this year's competition, components will be re-evaluated and modified for full-scale usage in future Olympic team competition.
 "Historically, it takes about three years for a sled design to be fully utilized in international competition," said Hughes. "As new components and designs become available, we look at what's right and wrong and then make it better through what we've learned. It's a working process, not a magic light bulb."
 New components demand new training procedures. Through computer technology and the use of 3M Scotch brand S-VHS videotape, engineers tape athletes in training and analyze their performance.
 "A shift in the shoulder or twist in the foot can mean the difference between winning and losing," Hughes said. "This sport is measured in the 1/1000ths of a second. What may seem a minor slip at the top of a run can mean valuable seconds at the bottom."
 The 3M engineering team uses video technology to analyze luge equipment, as well as athletes. "Sled-mounted video cameras have helped us record and determine blade-to-ice contact over the length of the course," Reeves said.
 Looking to the future, 3M has created a system to recruit young athletes called the 3M Luge Challenge.
 "Luge isn't as well known as gymnastics or hockey," Hughes said. "We need to actively recruit young people into the sport so we'll have strong, competitive teams in the future."
 The 3M Luge Challenge offers youngsters, many who have never seen a luge before, an opportunity to practice this exciting winter sport on closed roads with a wheeled luge. Young people aged 12 to 17 test their natural abilities in a safe setting with professional direction from certified trainers.
 "3M's commitment to the USLA goes beyond the financial," said 3M Olympic Program Manager Jim Radford. "We're in this to help the performance of our athletes. We need to show an example of how we make innovation work. For us, the partnership with the USLA does just that."
 3M, a Minnesota-based company, employs approximately 88,000 people worldwide. The company designs and manufactures more than 60,000 products for markets in 80 countries. Products range from health care to industrial tapes and adhesives, to high-tech imaging and electronic systems.
 Note to Editors: The U.S. Olympic Luge Team will be chosen this weekend, Jan. 11-12, in Lake Placid, N.Y. The team, sponsored by 3M, is using new technology developed by 3M. The team will compete in the 24th Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France, Feb. 8 through 23.
 -0- 1/8/92
 /CONTACT: Mary Auvin, 612-736-2597, Judy Zerby, 612-224-7944, both for 3M/
 (MMM) CO: 3M ST: Minnesota IN: SU:


AL -- MN010 -- 7749 01/08/92 11:43 EST
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Date:Jan 8, 1992
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