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 The Death of an Olympian  
 
 
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Posted: Feb 12, 2010 4:49:42 PM - Report post  (0)  (0)       Post Reply  post reply  

Taken from: Link

 quote:
 originally posted by NBC:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - A men's Olympic luger from the country of Georgia died Friday after a high-speed crash on a track that is the world's fastest and has raised safety concerns among competitors. A tearful IOC president Jacques Rogge said the death hours before the opening ceremony "clearly casts a shadow over these games."
Nodar Kumaritashvili prepares at the start during training at the Whistler Slider Centre on Friday.
Nodar Kumaritashvili prepares at the start during training at the Whistler Slider Centre on Friday.

Nodar Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled during training, went over the track wall and struck an unpadded steel pole near the finish line at Whistler Sliding Center. Paramedics and doctors were unable to revive the 21-year-old luger, who died at a hospital, the International Olympic Committee said.

Athletes from the nation of Georgia will compete in the Vancouver Olympics despite the death of their teammate.

Georgia Minister of Culture and Sport Nikolos Rurua says the Georgian team "decided to be loyal to the spirit of the Olympic Games."

He says the athletes will "dedicate their performances to their fallen comrade."

An investigation into the crash started quickly, although Rogge said this was not the time to talk about it. The men's luge competition is to begin Saturday afternoon. Officials at the Whistler track were uncertain if the schedule would be affected.

Rescue workers were at Kumaritashvili's side within seconds. Chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation started less than one minute after the crash, and he was quickly airlifted to a trauma center in Whistler.

The first sign Kumaritashvili was truly in trouble came only three seconds before the crash on Curve 13, the most perilous turn. His speed of 89.4 mph - his best during six training runs on this track - almost certainly means he had never gone faster.

Kumaritashvili's line - as the path is known in luge - entering the next-to-last curve had him traveling along a higher route than most racers prefer. That's where it got especially dangerous. His 176-pound body was no match for the gravitational forces along that sweeping turn. That, plus the high rate of speed, sent him careening up the high, banked, ice-covered wall.

Sliding diagonally down the wall, Kumaritashvili hit the corner entering the final straightaway with his lower body. The impact knocked him off the sled and flying across the track, his arms and legs flailing.

After smashing into the pole, he was motionless on a metal walkway. His left leg was in the air and his left foot was propped atop the track wall when the first rescue worker arrived and placed both hands on his helmet.

The rest of men's training was canceled for the day, with VANOC officials saying an investigation was taking place to "ensure a safe field of play."

The danger of the Whistler track has been talked about for months - particularly after several countries, including the U.S., were upset over access restrictions for everyone but Canada, with some noting it could lead to a safety issue.

Kumaritashvili is the fourth competitor to die at the Winter Games and the first since 1992.
Related to this article
Video

* GRAPHIC: Crash video
GRAPHIC: Crash video

GRAPHIC content. Footage of the luge crash that killed Georgian competitor Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run on Feb. 12.

Slideshows

* Photos
Photos

Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed in a crash during a training run Friday at the Whistler Sliding Centre. He was 21 years old.

Stories

* Fatal crash raises many questions
* Vancouver outlook

"It's a very rare situation," three-time Olympic champion and German coach Georg Hackl said before learning of the death, clearly shaken after seeing Kumaritashvili tended to furiously by medical workers.

Shortly before the accident, Hackl said he didn't believe the track was unsafe.

"People have the opinion it is dangerous but the track crew does the best it can and they are working hard to make sure the track is in good shape and everyone is safe," he said. "My opinion is that it's not anymore dangerous that anywhere else."

Five-time Olympian Mark Grimmette, chosen as the U.S. team's flag bearer, said the speeds on the track are pushing the boundaries of safety.

"We're probably getting close," he said Thursday. "This track is fast and you definitely have to be on your game. ... So it's definitely something they are going to have to take into account on future tracks."

American luger Christian Niccum crashed during a World Cup event in Whistler last year.

"When I hit that ice going 90 mph it turns into fire," Niccum said Thursday. "I remember coming around to the finish and I just wanted to rip off my suit, 'I'm on fire. I'm on fire.'"

This was Kumaritashvili's second crash during training for the games. He also failed to finish his second of six practice runs, and in the runs he did finish, his average speed was about 88 mph - significantly less than the speed the top sliders are managing on this lightning-fast course.

It was unclear how fast Kumaritashvili was going, although many sliders have exceeded 90 mph on this course. More than a dozen athletes have crashed during Olympic training for luge, and some questioned whether athletes from smaller nations - like Georgia - had enough time to prepare for the daunting track.

A tragedy before the games have even begun...

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Posted: Feb 12, 2010 5:15:30 PM - Report post  (0)  (0)       Post Reply  post reply  

We can only guess at why the people who were setting up the events wanted such an extravagantly and blatantly dangerous track to be set up with Canadian-restricted access.

We can only hope the deathtrap can be condemned and taken off the track-list for the rest of the competitors. That track has bad history, and I wouldn't blame any competitor for walking away from their run in favor of survival.

I don't know the physics of it, but if you need to be heavier than 176 pounds by much then it's pretty much a given that we'll see more severe injuries and deaths on this particular track. Luge competitors can't be too heavy.

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Posted: Feb 12, 2010 5:16:58 PM - Report post  (0)  (0)       Post Reply  post reply  

The video of that is sickening. I watched it and got phantom pains from watching it.
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Posted: Feb 12, 2010 5:35:46 PM - Report post  (0)  (0)       Post Reply  post reply  

 quote:
 originally posted by Foxxie-kun:

We can only guess at why the people who were setting up the events wanted such an extravagantly and blatantly dangerous track to be set up with Canadian-restricted access.

We can only hope the deathtrap can be condemned and taken off the track-list for the rest of the competitors. That track has bad history, and I wouldn't blame any competitor for walking away from their run in favor of survival.

I don't know the physics of it, but if you need to be heavier than 176 pounds by much then it's pretty much a given that we'll see more severe injuries and deaths on this particular track. Luge competitors can't be too heavy.

It is the single fastest track in the world. The Olympics are no longer about national unity it seems as much as they are about winning the most medals. Just like any other competition...

Imo, they should dismantle it and skip Luge this year. If I was on the team, I wouldn't run that course for all the gold in the world.

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Posted: Feb 12, 2010 5:43:48 PM - Report post  (0)  (0)       Post Reply  post reply  

If you have a strong constitution, here's the video from CBS news.

Link

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Posted: Feb 12, 2010 5:49:08 PM - Report post  (0)  (0)       Post Reply  post reply  

Wow 90mph to zero a second he really didn't stand a chance. Who made that track should be shot.
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Posted: Feb 12, 2010 9:44:53 PM - Report post  (0)  (0)       Post Reply  post reply  

There have already been so many near-terrible accidents on that track that it should have been closed down long before this accident.
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Posted: Feb 13, 2010 1:18:23 AM - Report post  (0)  (0)       Post Reply  post reply  

I heard about this while watching the Opening Ceremony. So tragic. I heard that it had to do with him losing control more than the nature of the track, though. I thought it was very respectful that they had a moment of silence for him.
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