Global EngagementUC HomeAbout UCUC AcademicsUC AdmissionsUC AthleticsUC GlobalUC HealthUC LibrariesUC ResearchNews


Skeleton Sled Designed by UC Professor Rides to an Olympic Medal

American athlete Matt Antoine races the ProtoStar V5 to a bronze medal, as UC Professor Grant Schaffner joins the athletes in Russia.

Date: 2/17/2014 9:35:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Provided by Grant Schaffner

UC ingot   A victory for the U.S. Olympic athletes at the games in Sochi, Russia, has ties to the University of Cincinnati.  American Matt Antoine was riding the ProtoStar V5 skeleton sled Saturday when he clinched the bronze medal for the U.S. Men’s Skeleton Sled Olympic Team.
UC Professor Grant Schaffner in Russia
UC Professor Grant Schaffner in Russia

The design team for the ProtoStar V5 was led by Grant Schaffner, an assistant professor in UC’s Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, and Tuffy Latour, the head skeleton coach for the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (USBSF).

Antoine’s friend and teammate John Daly was also racing the ProtoStar V5, but lost his chance at a medal when his sled slipped from the start grooves on the final run.

Katie Uhlaender was also racing on the ProtoStar V5 in the women’s competition, missing a bronze medal finish by just four-hundredths a second. Uhlaender also has ties to Cincinnati. She’s the daughter of the late Cincinnati Reds outfielder Ted Uhlaender, who was with the Reds when they played in the 1972 World Series.

ProtoStar V5 skeleton sled in Sochi, Russia
ProtoStar V5 skeleton sled in Sochi, Russia

The development of the skeleton sled is a partnership between Cincinnati-based ProtoStar Engineering (the lead company for the technology team), UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS), Fairfield-based Machintek Corporation, deBotech Inc. of North Carolina and Carpenter Technology Corporation of Pennsylvania. Testing got underway last September at the A2 Wind Tunnel, a premiere aerodynamics testing facility in Mooresville, N.C.

Schaffner joined the athletes in Russia for competition and sent back these photos.

"It has been a wonderful experience for me, to see our ProtoStar skeleton sleds in action at the Olympic Winter Games,” says Schaffner. “That alone would have been enough reward for our five-year journey. To have all three sleds (used by Matt Antoine, Katie Uhlaender and John Daly) in contention for a medal was more than I could have hoped for, and watching Matt slide to a bronze medal was a dream come true! I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to witness the competition in person,” says Schaffner.

Last fall, the ProtoStar V5 skeleton sled was awarded the gold and bronze medal in World Cup competition.

Get more background on the ProtoStar V5 skeleton sled.