Katherine Amenta checks out locally-based bobsled technology



PITTSBURGH - It's always amazing to watch the speeds athletes reach in the Winter Games.

This week, the bobsled competition got underway in Sochi, and when Italy's team competes, a little Pittsburgh pride is out there on the course.

Channel 11's Katherine Amenta explains the hometown touch.

In Sochi, we all know the difference between going home with gold and just going home, can come down to a matter of inches and for many athletes that quest for greatness begins in Canonsburg, PA.

“We’re obeying the laws of physics. We're just doing it in the computer,” said ANSYS President and CEO Jim Cashman.

Before a bobsled ever reaches Sochi or a ski touches down in competition, its design gets tested hundreds of time.

And for some teams, like the Italian bobsledders, locally-based ANSYS provides that technology.

“They want to make it as slippery through the air as possible,” said Cashman. “That's where our simulation comes in.”

Ferrari is behind this year's design for Italy.  Their bobsled is making its debut in Sochi.  ANSYS uses its software to test the speed of the bobsled and to make sure the athletes are a good fit.  That software saves teams from building several expensive prototypes.

“We can change one characteristic and in a minute, we can look at it,” said Cashman.

In fact, Cashman said sometimes their technology is so spot-on, it makes the equipment a little too fast for the Olympic Committee.

“Some of the success that comes from simulation means that more regulations come,” said Cashman.

The perfect example is Michael Phelps in the 2008 Olympics.  That's the year he won eight gold medals. 

ANSYS was the company that tested his ultra-sleek swimsuit.

After the 2008 Olympics, the suit was banned from competition because it made swimmers too fast.  But, Cashman says that's what advancing technology is all about.

“Everything is progressing, everything has to get better.  In our case, we feel that we help companies make it get better,” said Cashman.