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Page last updated at 13:20 GMT, Monday, 19 April 2010 14:20 UK

Olympics track contributes to Kumaritashvili death

Nodar Kumaritashvili
Kumaritashvili's death was the first of a luge athlete in competition since 1975

Luge chiefs have admitted the track on which the Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili died at the 2010 Winter Olympics was faster than it was designed to be.

The International Luge Federation report said a top speed of 136kmh (85mph) was expected but the actual top speed recorded was 153.98kmh (96mph).

But the FIL also said "no single reason" could account for his death during training for the Games.

He died at Whistler Sliding Centre, hours before the opening ceremony.

The 21-year-old's sled struck the inside of the track's last turn during his sixth and final training run, sending his body into the air and into an exposed steel pillar.

The FIL's secretary general Svein Romstad cited "a complex series of inter-related events" as leading to the young luger's death.

His death was the first of a luge athlete in competition since 1975 and the first at a Winter Games since 1964 when British luger Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski was killed during practice as was Australian skier Ross Milne, who was only 19.


Romstad said in a statement: "What happened to Nodar has been an unforeseeable fatal accident.

"After an in-depth analysis we concluded that there was no single reason, but a complex series of inter-related events which led to this tragedy.

"The FIL is determined to do what it can to avoid a tragedy like this from occurring again."

The report said: "Nodar did commit driving errors starting in curve 15-16, which as an accumulation ended in the impact that resulted in him leaving the track and subsequently hitting a post."

His sled also behaved in an unusual manner: "This bowing of the sled has not been seen before and was therefore not predictable by technical and safety experts.

"No athlete would have control in dealing with this type of 'catapult' effect," the report added.

The document, written by Romstad and vice president Claire DelNegro, was requested by the International Olympic Committee.

The British Columbia coroner's service is due to publish its examination of how Kumaritashvili died next month.

The debate will continue at the FIL Congress scheduled for June in Sochi, Russia, which will host the 2014 Winter Olympics and will soon begin building its own sliding track.

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see also
Luge tragedy scrutinised
16 Apr 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Olympic luger buried in Georgia
20 Feb 10 |  Europe
Georgian pulls out of luge event
14 Feb 10 |  Luge
Olympics open after luge tragedy
13 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Sliding into Olympic position
09 Mar 09 |  Luge
Event guide: Luge
10 Jan 06 |  Luge

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