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Luge tracks to be slowed after Kumaritashvili death

Germany's Felix Loch
Felix Loch won gold in the men's luge

The International Luge Federation (FIL) says it intends to make sliding tracks slower following the death of Georgia's Nodar Kumaritashvili in a training run.

The Whistler track is acknowledged as the fastest in the world, capable of generating a top speed of around 95mph.

But FIL chief Svein Romstad suggested the track for the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia will be slower.

"Organisers want to say this is the fastest or whatever, but we don't want to go in this direction," he said.

Kumaritashvili died after his sled flipped and he left the track, hitting a steel pole at the Whistler Sliding Centre during his sixth and final training run on Friday.

Nodar was absolutely qualified and deserved to be at the Olympic Games, unequivocally

FIS secretary general Svein Romstad

However, many of the athletes had already raised concerns over the speeds achieved at the track, while Kumaritashvili's father, David, said the 21-year-old had expressed safety concerns.

"He called me and said that the track was very dangerous," said David Kumaritashvili, a former luger himself.

The men's race went ahead in Vancouver, with Germany's Felix Loch securing gold, but only after changes were made to the track.

The racers' average speeds were significantly cut by lowering the start gate to the one usually reserved for the women's competition.

Romstad revealed that the FIL had considered cancelling the competition, but said there was a "general consensus to go forward".

He also said the FIL had decided that human error was solely to blame for the accident.

Mat Power

"[Kumaritashvili] made a mistake," said Romstad. "Having said that, on the same day Armin Zoeggeler, who won the bronze and is a two-times Olympic champion, also made a mistake and crashed.

"I think it is very important to stress that Nodar was a very good athlete. I think it could have happened to any athlete. It's just circumstances.

"We haven't had a fatality in this sport for 35 years... any fatality is unacceptable.

"When we construct tracks we go through every single scenario, we follow all the expertise, experience we have to try to safeguard a track. We thought we had covered everything.

"Nodar was absolutely qualified and deserved to be at the Olympic Games, unequivocally. He was a good athlete."

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see also
Luger expressed fears over track
16 Feb 10 |  Luge
German Loch wins luge gold medal
15 Feb 10 |  Luge
Georgian pulls out of luge event
14 Feb 10 |  Luge
Olympic luger dies after crashing
13 Feb 10 |  Luge
Olympics open after luge tragedy
13 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Day-by-day guide to the Winter Olympics
26 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Sliding into Olympic position
09 Mar 09 |  Luge
Event guide: Luge
10 Jan 06 |  Luge

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