USA Luge and Vulcan GMS – A Heavyweight Partnership for Decades

You might not easily see the connection: a global provider of components and assemblies to some of the world’s largest equipment companies and a winter Olympic sport that sees sleds and their riders speeding down an icy track at extreme speed. But Vulcan GMS has been a proud supporting partner of USA Luge since 1990, and this relationship will see USA Luge through the PyeongChang Winter Olympics this February and beyond.

It all began more than 25 years ago when Vulcan’s own Chuck Yanke was watching the Olympics on TV and reached out to USA Luge.  He offered to custom create and manufacture lead weights for athletes to use in their suits. These weights could be used to adjust a slider’s total weight to the allowable standard. That’s important in a sport that’s all about speed – luge is the only sport tracked to one thousandth of a second.  In addition, he agreed to provide the specialty weights free of charge.

The team took Yanke up on his offer, and the resulting partnership has lasted for decades. Today, Vulcan GMS not only continues to be the official provider of lead weights to USA Luge, but also sponsors two US Luge members – Emily Sweeney and Brittney Arndt.

What exactly IS Luge?

Luge is the French word for “sled” and, like the bobsled, it was developed as a sport in Switzerland. Its roots go back to the 16th century, but it was not until 300 years later that the first luge tracks were built by Swiss hotel owners to appeal to thrill-seeking tourists.

Luge is one of the oldest winter sports. It involves competitors lying on their backs on a tiny sled with their feet stretched out in front of them, racing down an icy track at speeds exceeding 95 mph – all without brakes.  Often referred to as “the fastest sport on ice,” sliders use their legs and shoulders to steer the fiberglass sleds down the track. Additionally, the average luge run has a vertical drop of 300 feet!  In the first international race of 1883, the race winners reached an average of just 16 mph — which shows what a long way this sport has come. The first international luge race took place in February 1883, and luge was inaugurated as an Olympic sport at the 1964 IX Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria.

USA Luge reached the Olympic singles podium in Sochi, Russia in 2014 when 2009 World Champion Erin Hamlin, the most successful singles racer in team history, scored a bronze medal. She was also the first American woman to ever win an Olympic luge medal. The U.S. squad will try to add to their Olympic legacy when the 2018 Olympic Winter Games are held in PyeongChang, South Korea.

A Team Like Family

While in PyeongChang, team USA Luge will continue to enjoy not only the financial backing, but the wholehearted fan support of a 155-employee strong cheering section at Vulcan GMS. The mutual friendship between our two organizations means that Vulcan employees feel a personal connection with USA Luge, and see the sliders we sponsor like family. It’s pretty amazing that the world class athletes we cheer for and watch on TV are the same kids that we discovered in slider searches, the same lugers we’ve hosted as guests in our facilities, and the same Olympians who’ve held our corporate flag on a mountaintop in Vancouver.  As Chuck says, “Being associated with the Olympic team is inspirational for our employees. Getting to know the athletes through our sponsorship and their visits brings us into contact with their competitive spirit. I think a lot of that spirit has rubbed off over the decades and become a very real part of what drives us to be our best.”

We’ll be following these athletes with a personal connection and a passion for their performance. Luge coverage begins February 8th. Will you be watching?

Find out when to tune in to USA Luge events at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games by clicking the link below.




Vulcan’s lead weights featured in Milwaukee Commerce summer edition

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Vulcan GMS is once again in the news for our continued support of the United States Olympic luge team.

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) publishes a quarterly newsletter called Milwaukee Commerce. In its summer edition for 2015, Vulcan’s lead weights which are inserted into each luge team member’s uniform were featured. The article was entitled “Lead Weights Lift Vulcan Global Manufacturing into International Spotlight.”

According to Olympic rules, the lugers are allowed to wear lead weights to bring them up to the maximum weight limit. Vulcan’s aerodynamic lead weights are sewn into vests and shorts worn under the team members’ fitted speed suits.

Vulcan GMS has been the exclusive supplier of aerodynamic lead weights to the U.S. Olympic luge team for the past 20 years. Our weights were first used in the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. They’ll be used next in Pyeongchang, South Korea for the 2018 Olympic games.

Vulcan is proud to be a continued supporter of the U.S. luge team and the Olympic games.

Find out more

  • Click on the image above or here to view the article as it appeared in Milwaukee Commerce.
  • Read just the text of the Milwaukee Commerce article.
  • View the entire summer edition of the Milwaukee Commerce.
  • Find out more about Vulcan GMS and its support of the U.S. Olympic luge team.


Have you ever thought about trying luge?

Image of LugeSo where in the world do these luge “experts” come from anyway? Luge is not exactly like baseball or football at the local high school. So how does someone get into the sport?

The answer is simple: You try it. USA Luge has several events coming up this winter season and anyone of the proper age and with a little training can try their best from basic slides to some with more complex turning and maneuvering. Take a look at the list of events for this season.

No snow? No problem

Image of Sliding on WheelsSo what happens if you are in part of the country that does not get snow or if it is summer time? You can still try it. How do you try luge without snow? Take a look at the USA Luge Slider Search page on the website. USA Luge will be holding several events in 2015 where wheels will be added to sleds and custom tracks will be set up to test your abilities. With a little training and coaching, people are able to try the sport and figure out how to handle a sled. Would you believe that some of the best USA sliders began on sleds with wheels?

Sliding doubles depends on nonverbal communication

Once you have hit the test hills and you think you are qualified for the fastest sport on ice (which by the way can hit speeds of up to 95 mph and where you are being timed to the thousands of a second), it’s time to share one more fact.

If you are sliding doubles, the smaller person is on top and can see but cannot steer the sled. The larger person is on the bottom and can steer but cannot see. So when you are ready to pull upwards of 5 g’s in the turns and up to 95 mph on the straightaway, remember to maintain the most aerodynamic position in your custom-made aerodynamic suit. You have to rely on nonverbal communication as a team to make it to the end one thousands of a second faster than the competition.

Don’t blink or you may miss it

Whether you think you have what it takes to be a slider or just want to follow the sport, you cannot go wrong. Luge would seem like a simple sport – like kids sliding on a local sledding hill; but there is so much more involved. From the visualizing of the track to picking the path to the strength to hold 5 g’s in a turn without getting off that path, the goal is always to get to the track’s end as fast as possible.

USA Luge is the fastest sport on ice and the more your learn about it, the more amazed you will be. Follow USA Luge  and find USA Luge on the track. But don’t blink or you could miss the fastest sport on ice!

Vulcan GMS CEO Chuck Yanke to discuss Olympic luge involvement on WTMJ radio

Image of Olympic RingsVulcan GMS CEO Chuck Yanke will be interviewed live on Milwaukee’s WTMJ 620 am radio today (Feb. 12) at 5:30 p.m. Central Standard Time. Yanke will be discussing the company’s involvement with the United States Olympic luge team.

For the past 20 years, Vulcan GMS has been the exclusive supplier of aerodynamic lead weights to the U.S. Olympic luge team. The lugers are allowed to wear lead weights to bring them up to the maximum weight limit. Vulcan’s aerodynamic lead weights are sewn into vests and shorts worn under the team members’ fitting speed suits. On Feb. 11, Erin Hamlin became the United States’ first individual luge medal winner.

Luge competition continues through Feb. 13 in Sochi, Russia. We invite you to tune into WTMJ 620 am at 5:30 p.m. CST to hear Yanke’s interview and to show your support by watching the final slides of the U.S. Olympic luge team on television through Feb. 13.

Vulcan supplies aerodynamic lead weights to U.S. Olympic luge team

Image of Olympic Luge Team

During the last 20 years, Vulcan GMS has been the exclusive supplier of aerodynamic lead weights to the U.S. Olympic luge team. Our weights have been used in every Olympic competition since 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway.

Luge is the fastest sport on ice; reaching speeds over 80 mph. In the Olympics, it is the only sport timed to one thousand of a second. The athletes compete on sleds controlled only with imperceptible movements of their body. The team is made up of men, women and doubles teams. Being a gravity sport, the heavier you are the faster you go. This is where Vulcan helps the U.S. team.

According to Olympic rules, the lugers are allowed to wear lead weights to bring them up to the maximum weight limit. Vulcan’s aerodynamic lead weights are sewn into vests and shorts worn under the team members’ fitting speed suits. In 1998 in Nagano, Japan, the U.S. team won the first Olympic medals in this sport using Vulcan’s aerodynamic lead weights.

The sport of luge

Luge is all about speed, and the fastest time down the track wins. Once the sliders weigh in, the rest is muscle, experience, skill and communication. Communication you ask? In doubles, one slider sits on top of the other on the same sled. The slider on the top can see the track but cannot steer while the slider on the bottom can steer but cannot see the track. This is a partnership of trust and communication through body language and movements to navigate the fastest path down the track. That is what makes the difference between winning medals or not.

How you can support the U.S. Olympic luge team

Besides supplying aerodynamic lead weights, Vulcan also is a major sponsor of the U.S. Olympic luge team. Vulcan also continues to support through the Olympic’s Adopt an Athlete Program.

The 2014 winter Olympics are coming up and will held in Sochi, Russia, this year and the luge will be competing February 8-13. You can view the U.S. Olympic luge team’s schedule to see each day’s events. On the site, you will be able to enter your zip code to see which local channel will be showing the events.

The Vulcan GMS family hopes you will support the U.S. Olympic luge team by tuning in to the coverage as they slide for the gold.