There was a lot of online buzz when South Korea won its first Olympic gold medal for Men’s Skeleton. And it was not just because of the fact that Olympian Yun Sung Bin became the first athlete from outside Europe or North America to win an Olympic medal in a sliding event. Something else caught the interest of the internet – in and out of Korea: his Iron Man helmet! Watching Yun slide down in his helmet was like watching Iron Man himself zooming down the track. So, what’s the story behind this special helmet?
Skeleton is an extreme sport, as you can imagine, with athletes racing by plummeting head-first down a steep, winding ice track on a small sled. So it is especially important for these athletes to choose a helmet which will protect their heads, in the event of a crash. Which is why custom-fit helmets are popular with athletes like Yun Sung Bin, as such helmets guarantee a better fit and greater protection due to its advanced manufacturing process.
Yun Sung Bin’s Iron Man helmet is a custom-fit helmet produced by HJC Inc., which specializes in manufacturing motorcycle helmets. HJC uses MEDIT’s Solutionix 3D scanners to design custom-fit helmets due to its high scan speeds as well as its ability to capture freeform surfaces to an accuracy of potentially less than 10 microns. The technology of the scanner is so advanced that HJC has been using the same scanner since 2003.
In order to create the Iron Man custom-fit helmet, Yun’s head was scanned to create a precise 3D model which was then imported into HJC’s Computer-Aided Design (CAD) system. HJC designers then compared the head scan with its standard helmet model design and subtly modified it to properly fit the model of Yun’s head. This meant designing custom inner pads and new foam molds for the helmet, using rapid prototyping technology.
The resulting helmet was not only aerodynamically efficient helmet but fit Yun perfectly, ensuring both comfort and safety for the Olympian Gold Medalist. Yun chose the Iron Man design for his helmet due to his love for the character, and because “The way people ride skeleton is similar to the way Iron Man flies.” If you’ve seen the videos of Yun’s race, you’ll understand what he means. We look forward to seeing more of South Korea’s very own Iron Man in future Winter Olympics!
 [Source REUTERS/Edgar Su] Skeleton: South Korea crowns 'Iron Man' Yun as skeleton emperor. Written by Jane Chung and James Pearson