Voestalpine high-tech steel on the starting line at the Olympic Games

by David Fleschen

Any materials deployed where snow, ice, and low temperatures dominate must meet stringent quality standards, especially when used in winter sports equipment. Global steel and technology Group voestalpine supplies high-quality materials for the manufacture of ski edges, blades for ice skates, and luge components. Consequently, premium steel from voestalpine will be helping athletes achieve top performances at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.

voestalpine round wire is a pre-material used to manufacture exceptionally hard-wearing edges on skis. An Austrian manufacturer of ski edges (one of only two in the world) has been sourcing voestalpine wire for skis used in professional and amateur sport for decades. The grade of steel selected for the edges significantly influences a ski’s performance and service life. Downhill races, in which competitors reach speeds of up to 160 km/h, are extremely physically demanding, both on the professional skier and their equipment. voestalpine also plays an important role in helping to hold skiers’ feet securely in their boots, supplying the high-quality material used in the buckles on famous brands of ski boots.

High grade steel for the perfect edge

Professional ice skaters make equally stringent demands of their equipment. The leaps and turns typical in figure skating subject skaters and their skates to forces similar in magnitude to those used in centrifugal training for astronauts. In speed skating, sprinters reach speeds of up to 60 km/h. When consistently used at a professional level, blades need to be sharpened up to four times a week, which is only possible when they are made from a premium material. voestalpine supplies this premium material—a high-alloyed composite—to the global leading manufacturers of professional speed skates. The steel grade is a major determinant of a blade’s running characteristics, while the material must also be wear-resistant and extremely durable.

Innovations for top speeds on the ice track

Premium voestalpine products are also in demand for luge where, at speeds of up to 140 km/h, both the athlete and their equipment are exposed to extreme stresses. For several years now, the Group in Germany has been working together with the Olympics training camp in Oberhof, applying innovative technologies to further optimize the complex sports equipment and make athletes faster. voestalpine supplies ultra-high strength, wear-resistant special steel normally used in aerospace for luge runners. EschmannTextures, a voestalpine subsidiary in North Rhine Westphalia and specialist in surface treatments, has also created a novel film to avoid excessive turbulence. The German luge team, equipped with voestalpine materials, succeeded in winning several medals at the 2021 FIL World Luge Championships.

Source and Photo: Voestalpine

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