08 February, 2011

Luger's death: new worrying findings:

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Newspaper coverage of the crash from last year
CBC television have revealed new information on tragedy
Almost one year after the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian luger, at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, evidence has been uncovered that sheds damaging light on the tragedy, suggesting that the organisers had long been concerned about danger on the sliding track.
CBC, the Canadian broadcaster, has reported the contents of an e-mail from John Furlong, who led the Vancouver Organising Committee (Vanoc), that confirm a high level of worry over the speed of the track 11 months before the Games began on February 12 last year.
Nodar Kumaritashvili:   1988 - 2010
On March 24, 2009, Tim Gayda, the Vanoc vice-president of sport, e-mailed Furlong in reference to a letter from the president of the International Luge Federation (FIL) expressing concern about the track. “There is nothing to do on our side,” he wrote, “but it does put in writing concern about the speeds of the track if there was ever an incident.”
Furlong replied that FIL officials were concerned “that the track is in their view too fast and someone could get badly hurt. An athlete gets badly hurt or worse and I think the case could be made we were warned and did nothing. That said, I’m not sure where the exit sign or way out is on this. Our legal guys should review at least.”
At the time of the Games, an immediate investigation put Kumaritashvili’s death down to “pilot error”. However, new documents reveal that discussions about safety at the Whistler track started even before the 2006 Turin Games.
As Vancouver prepares for the one-year anniversary of the Winter Olympics on Saturday and what was broadly viewed as a great unifying event for Canada, the tragedy that haunts the Games is being simultaneously felt again across the world.
Rescuer workers trying to save Kumaritashvili
The Georgian Olympic Committee has demanded an explanation and Kumaritashvili’s father has been quoted on national television as saying: “I want to ask why they allowed this competition to go ahead if they knew in advance that the track was not safe. Does it mean that my boy was condemned to death?”
When the track was designed, the intention was that it would generate speeds that would peak at 83mph. Hours before the start of the opening ceremony, Kumaritashvili was on a practice run that nearly reached 90mph, significantly slower than the medal-winners would go later in the week.
It was at the foot of the track, on its last big bend, where Kumaritashvili lost control and flew over the side of the track wall, hitting a steel pole. He died instantly.
Vanoc officials have responded to the latest concern by explaining that the design and construction of the Whistler venue was done together with the relevant international federations of luge, bobsleigh and skeleton.
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