Feb 20th, 2010 Update: Funeral of Luger Nodar Kumaritashvili
Feb 14th 9:10pm Update: Heart breaking report from CBC, “Georgian luger’s father won’t watch fatal crash”
Feb 14th 10:00am Update: Looks like Martin Rogers’ report may have been mistaken that Nodar’s dad was NOT with him in Vancouver. News from CTV “Our hearts are broken“.
Feb 13th 10:10am Update: The starting point of the competition is now lowered to the women starting point (30m about ~10 storey lower), the protective wall raised, and the course profile changed.
(See above note for revision update) First of all, Martin Rogers wrote in “Nodar Kumaritashvili loved to luge“,
Kumaritashvili grew up immersed in winter athletics, with his father Felix a world-class bobsled athlete and coach.
Felix previously coached the French national team and had hoped his son would follow him into bobsled, but the local facilities and the cost of the sport made luge a more sensible option.
[…] A week ago, Felix and Nodar left Bakuriani together, driving four hours to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi before the 22-hour trip to Canada.
On Friday, Felix suffered a fate no father should ever have to, witnessing his son die on a training run as Nodar slid down the track at nearly 90 mph before crashing into a metal post, ensuring the world would know his name after the most tragic of circumstances.
The Vancouver Olympic Committee and the luge federation, known by its French initials FIL, outlined their findings in a joint statement.
“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,” they 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.”
The track will reopen after officials raise the walls at the exit of curve 16 and change the “ice profile,” they said.
“This was done as a preventative measure, in order to avoid that such an extremely exceptional accident could occur again,” the statement said.
[…] Sports Illustrated’s David Epstein, who is covering the Olympics for the magazine, told CNN’s “Situation Room” that the Whistler course is the fastest in the world “and not by a little.”
He noted that while most luge courses “flatten out” around the 11th turn, the Whistler track “just keeps on dropping so there’s really kind of no break from gathering speed toward the end.”
Epstein said some athletes had been complaining about the speed of the course and speculating that this Winter Games could be the first time the sport sees a competitor hit 100 mph.
Here is a NYT Blog takes the findings “Officials Say Athlete, Not Track, Caused Crash“,
The crash that resulted in the death of the luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili was caused by his errors on the course and not a deficiency in the Whistler Sliding Centre course, the Olympic organizing committee and the sport’s international governing body said in a joint statement issued late Friday.
[In the comments left by readers:]
“To blame the competitor is obnoxious. The punishment for lack of experience or error should NOT be death.” 46 Readers agreed at press time.
And the most unfortunate comment/report comes from UK Telegraph Ian Chadband, Chief Sports Correspondent in Vancouver, “Winter Olympics 2010: Nodar Kumaritashvili’s death overshadows opening ceremony”
For the big question being asked here today as the first medals were about to be contested was whether it was Canada’s own over-zealous attitude, determined to “Own the Podium” by limiting their opposition’s practice time at the Whistler ice track which might have contributed to a relative World Cup novice like Kumaritashvili ending up in such an horrific crash.
Georgian officials played down suggestions that inexperience played a part in the crash which saw him fly off the track at the notorious 16th and final curve of the lightning track and straight into a metal column at nearly 90mph. Inexperience, anyway, could not explain how Armin Zoeggeler, the brilliant reigning champion, was one of four other sliders who suffered accidents too.
Telegraph Sport had highlighted earlier this week the growing dangers posed in the push for greater speed and more dangerous manoeuvres in the Games’ bid to woo the youth market.
I think and hope VANOC has put in the needed modifications to make the course safer to compete in. I am not an expert in the sport to comment on the technical causes of the crash but it seemed to me that blaming the dead can be viewed as a seriously distasteful act and unless the officials can be 500% sure, it should not have been said.
Having said the above, it is totally unfair Mr. Chadband to insinuate
“whether it was Canada’s own over-zealous attitude, determined to “Own the Podium” by limiting their opposition’s practice time at the Whistler ice track”
I believe the decisions to limit practice times in many different competitions were technical decisions completely due to the unseasonably warm weather. When it rained like it did in the various courses and with snow being flown and trucked in, I am surprised Mr. Chadband would accuse Canada of ill motives in limiting practice time.
Again, my heart goes to Nodar Kumaritashvili and his family and loved ones. The pain is even sharper for me as I now know Nodar’s father was there to see his son crashed and died. So terribly sad.