Winter Sports in Florida
Raydon Brings Winter Sports to Florida!
We’re in Florida, so you may be asking, why bobsleighs? Well, my name is Barb and I’m an engineer at Raydon. My best friend, Zane, is from Latvia. We’ve known each other for many years. Zane is a former luger and bobsleigh pusher on the Latvian Women’s Bobsleigh team. In 2015 she introduced me to bobsleigh. I fell in love with it! I couldn’t wait for Saturday nights, when we would be able to watch my two teams, the U.S. and Latvian Olympic Bobsleigh teams, slide down the tracks for a potential medal. I saw my teams win many medals! It was so exciting.
The challenge with this sport, as with any sport, are the injuries involved. I would have never dreamed that I could be part of the solution to decrease the amount of injuries in this sport! An employee owned company, Raydon is all about innovation. In 2016, we started a special pilot initiative called, WTF (Work this Friday). The purpose of the initiative for any employee to share their innovative idea and present it to all fellow employee owners. The projects that received the most votes would be funded. So, the dream to decrease the amount of injuries truly began! My presentation was virtual reality bobsleigh trainer. I know it seems crazy. Why would a company in Florida even consider a bobsleigh trainer? But, Raydon has been a world leader in virtual reality training solutions for military for almost 30 years. We specialize in unleashing the power of human performance and I just happened to know the experts. If could combine Raydon’s expertise and the bobsleigh experts, we could help train the bobsleigh athletes and help to reduce their risk of injury.
And, so it began. Zane took me to Latvia the following year. She introduced me to the Olympic Bobsleigh track in Sigulda, and I took a ride down the track, twice! As we say in the US, “I was hooked!” Zane spent many nights teaching me about bobsleigh. My colleagues spent many hours teaching me and helping me with the technology we would need to do this. And now the rest is history! We presented our ideas and Raydon was so impressed they chose to fund all of the employees’ innovative ideas! The next thing we had to do was come up with a name for our trainer. My manager who came up with the word, Barbsled, after my name, Barb. And so it was born!
Raydon Barbsled VRT became a reality, a virtual reality.
Our first trip to an Olympic Bobsleigh track was December 2016 in Altenberg, Germany. This is where we engaged with the Latvian Olympic Bobsleigh team. We had no idea what to expect and how our equipment would hold up under these conditions. We had much success and an abundance of appreciation goes to:
- The Latvian Olympic Coach, Sandis Prūsis, for allowing us to join with them in their training.
- The Latvian Olympic Pilots, Uģis Žaļims and Oskars Kibermanis, for helping us with our cameras and GPS during their practice runs.
- The intelligence and experience of the Latvian mechanics, Viesturs Pērkons and Oskars Berģis, who performed the mounting of all of the equipment.
- This would never have started without employee, Barbara Wolverton’s friend and Bobsleigh consultant, Zane Elekse, who brought Barbara into the world of Bobsleigh! A former Bobsleigh Pusher and Luger, has taught us about this amazing sport.