Unsafe luge track to reopen with raised wall

On Friday, Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili crashed and was killed after taking a dangerous turn during a practice run at the Whistler track. The track was immediately closed, but now the International Luge Federation is saying training will resume this weekend after proper adjustments are made to the turn in question. The Vancouver Organizing Committee will reportedly raise the turn’s outside wall and alter its ice profile.

From The Vancouver Sun:

Vanoc released a statement saying both the BC Coroners Service and FIL officials had investigated the accident. The federation concluded Kumaritashvili failed to make a correction once he entered the final curve and slammed into the pillar.

“It appears after a routine run, the athlete came late out of curve 15 and did not compensate properly to make correct entrance into curve 16,” the FIL said. ” This resulted in a late entrance into curve 16 and although the athlete worked to correct the problem he eventually lost control of the sled resulting in the tragic accident.

“The technical officials of the FIL were able to retrace the path of the athlete and concluded there was no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track.”

This, to me, sounds like the FIL is subtly blaming the athlete for his death. They aren’t being crude about it, but the federation certainly isn’t taking any responsibility.

Also, there must be some “deficiencies in the track” if the VANOC is modifying the track after this tragic accident. In retrospect, I’m sure we’re all wondering why proper precautions weren’t made beforehand. Given the years of preparation, how did this happen? Why wasn’t the wall higher in the first place? Why weren’t those steel poles padded? Did those poles have to be so close to the track?

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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Men’s luger dies following training accident

In news that will certainly cast a sobering mood over the opening ceremonies in Vancouver tonight, a 21-year-old men’s luger from the former Soviet republic of Georgia died on Friday after crashing during training for the 2010 Winter Olympic games.

According to ESPN.com, Nomar Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled, went over the track wall and struck an unpadded steel pole near the finish line at Whistler Sliding Center. Rescue workers rushed to his aid within seconds and he was quickly airlifted to a trauma center before losing his life sometime thereafter.

It’s unclear how fast Kumaritashvili was going, but the ESPN.com report states that many sliders have reached over 90 mph on the course. The track (pictured above) is considered the world’s fastest and many Olympians have complained that the course is unsafe. Some also questioned whether or not competitors from smaller nations like Kumaritashvili’s had enough time to prepare for the dangerous track.

The remainder of the men’s training has obviously been canceled for the day.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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