New luge technology gives Team USA an edge

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Dan Bazile/NBC News

WATERVLIET - The U.S. luge team will be using new technology they hope will give them the winning edge in Sochi. Their sled was outfitted with a type of steel created by a company in New York state. It's the abrasive that will win the medal in Sochi.

"The abrasive will go along and put the right kind of form and shape on the edge to make it the best for them," said Brad Johnson, Saint-Gobain. The sandpaper is used to polish the runners in the sleds for the USA luge team -- to make them go faster.

That abrasive came from Norton, Saint-Gobain -- a company in Watervliet, New York. 

The partnership started more than 30 years ago. Three time luge Olympian and silver medalist Gordy Sheer remembers it well. He said, "They're a great partner for us. The luge athletes are great people."

"Since my retirement from the sport, the company has really stepped up the plate in terms of providing us with the right materials for our runners," said Sheer.

A few years ago, Norton, Saint-Gobain engineers came up with a different composition of steel.
"U.S. Steel would actually make the steel and then the steel bars would come back and they would be made into the sled," said Johnson.

"Before we were buying material from the Austrian team. That's problematic because they don't necessarily want to give us their best stuff," said Sheer.

Sheer says the new steel along with the company's abrasives have already made a difference in international competitions.