Aerospace firm Sigma Space Corp. has joined fellow Maryland companies Under Armour and Lockheed Martin in developing technology to help the U.S. Speedskating team at the Winter Olympics.
Lanham-based Sigma Space said Friday its optical and mechanical engineers have been at work on a secret project since the fall to enhance skaters performance. Through its "Blade Runner" mission, the company aimed to build a tool that could polish skate blade sides, which never go through the sharpening common to blade bottoms.
The company, which makes instrumentation used in aerospace and defense applications, developed a tool flexible enough to offer enough polishing pressure for the blade sides as well bottoms. It's based on a concept developed in 2002 by Jim Lyons, a Sigma senior optical engineer.
"The speed skate polishing technology developed by Sigma Space Corporation represents a major leap forward in competition skate blade preparation," Finn Halvorsen, U.S. Speedskating's high performance long track managing director, said in a statement. "The technology designed by Sigma enables the skate blade to not only be polished to optical levels but also be prepared quickly between races."
Testing showed that the tool creates a polished surface that's about 30 times smoother than the standard skate blade on the bottom and 10 times smoother on the side.
U.S. speedskaters also will be wearing new high-tech uniforms designed to be the world's fastest by Baltimore-based sports brand Under Armour in a collaboration with Bethesda-based defense and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin.