The “Head of Sled Construction”
#tkgoesPyeongChang | Engineering | People at thyssenkrupp | thyssenkrupp has been cooperating with luge world champions Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken since 2014. Their goal is clear: gold in South Korea. The first in a series of reports about the team behind the world champions focuses on Alex Meier.
Deep in concentration Alex Meier sits at his desk, before him a panorama view of the Alps, beside him a pile of boxes with parts for a luge; more accurately parts of the sled used by Toni Eggert and his partner Sascha Benecken in competitions around the world. Alex has been working with the reigning luge doubles world champions for four years. Just before the opening World Cup race in Innsbruck, they discuss current runner settings and Alex assures them that he will bring the sled components to Innsbruck with him. Toni needs to test them on the ice. They could make the sled milliseconds faster and bring the team a step closer to its ultimate goal: gold in South Korea.
Engineering expertise in the sled
When thyssenkrupp’s sponsorship of the lugers started, Alex Meier was not directly involved. But he was there at his workplace in the development center for engine components in Eschen/Liechtenstein when the first sled was delivered. The mechanical engineer and former cross-country skier, who actually works on drive technologies at thyssenkrupp, was immediately keen to get involved. He was appointed “Head of Sled Construction” and quickly immersed himself in the material. Together with Toni he drew up a strategy, and the two of them began tinkering, measuring, calculating and designing. Toni and Sascha are now using the fourth generation luge created in collaboration with Alex and the other members of the “pit stop crew” at thyssenkrupp.
With innovation and creativity to the top
All measurements, calculations and test results indicate that the latest sled is the best of all. Alex is proud of what they have achieved and looks back fondly on the aerodynamic tests in the wind tunnel, trials in the French Alps, and the various measuring methods used on the ice track. His additional job has brought him into contact with many new areas: weight reduction, steel manufacturing and coating – the perfect complement to his already fascinating and varied job at thyssenkrupp. As an innovator and creative spirit, Alex develops new processes, methods and products that advance not only the production of camshafts but also forward-looking topics such as e-mobility. His “internal radar” for useful innovations is now contributing to the luge project. “I read a great deal – about microsystems that reduce air resistance on aircraft through resonance, about enzymes that reduce surface friction, and if I think it can help thyssenkrupp or our luge I immediately get on the phone!”
Anything but everyday experiences
The past three years have expanded his horizons – not just professionally, but also personally. When Alex stands side by side with the international coach at the World Cup, eyes glued to the video screen as “his” luge driven by “his” boys takes a curve at 120 km/h and exits in exactly the right line, it’s the exciting culmination of years of work. The 51-year-old engineer has also developed a close friendship with the two sportsmen. So every victory is also a personal success.
The perfect start
Alex and the new sled parts were of course present at the opening World Cup race in Innsbruck/Igls. And the first test was a success: After being fastest on both runs, the duo won in a time of 1:19.843 minutes. The perfect start ahead of South Korea. The goal set four years ago is now tantalizingly close. Alex believes the team can win gold with the new sled. But it’s still more than two months before the flight to Pyeongchang. And Alex wants to make best use of that time, because every millisecond counts.
The thyssenkrupp pit stop crew
thyssenkrupp has been cooperating with luge world champions Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken since 2014. Three engineers from the Group contribute their expertise to making the sled faster and better year by year. The carbon pod has been further enhanced, the runners optimized and the key elements of the sled – the blades – made even faster. Two communications experts are also accompanying the lugers in their work. Their goal is clear: gold in South Korea. The first in a series of reports about the team behind the world champions focuses on Alex Meier. The 51-year-old mechanical engineer works for thyssenkrupp in Eschen/Liechtenstein.