Georgian Olympic luger Nodar Kumaritashvili remembered in Whistler
21-year-old Winter Olympic hopeful died during a training run at start of 2010 Vancouver Games
Flowers have been laid in Whistler for Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died on the track there during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver exactly four years ago.
Kumaritashvili died during a training run the day of the Winter Games' Opening Ceremony in Whistler. The 21-year-old lost control of his sled at an estimated 145 km/h, flew off the track and slammed into a metal pillar.
On Wednesday, the fourth anniversary of the fatal crash, Robert Fegg of the Canadian Luge Federation laid a wreath at the permanent memorial to Kumaritashvili in Whistler's Olympic Plaza.
Fegg, who was Assistant Coach to the Canadian Olympic luge team in 2010, said Kumaritashvili's death hit the luging community hard and it was important to continue to honour his memory.
"The luge community is very small and you know everybody...to experience something like that, it gets remembered every year, and now, especially, every four years," said Fegg.
"It is somewhere for sure in your conscience all the time. It's not as present usually, but under current circumstances, it comes up right away again."
Fegg says the fatal crash has had a lasting impact on luge tracks around the world.
"In the past, it was always quicker, quicker, quicker. We tried to reach our limits. We did. We reached a limit, unfortunately, here in Canada.
"We had to learn, we had to react, in the design of the new tracks and therefore Sochi is built on a slower path. It had a couple of tweaks with three uphill sections, which slow you down and keep the potential risk even more under control.
"It was the right decision to go in that direction now."
The official explanation from the International Luge Federation has always been that a "catapult" effect launched him out of the track, that his sled compressed and then acted like a spring.
A B.C. Coroner's report into the death of Kumaritashvili blamed the accident on several factors, including the young luger's inexperience and the speed of the track, and made recommendations to enhance safety not only in Whistler, but also at luge tracks around the world.
In 2010, the federation confirmed it had made changes to the luge track in line with the report and said speeds on the track had been recalculated and the results studied.
However, an investigation by the fifth estate, concluded in 2013 that a small section of the track may have acted as a ramp that launched Kumaritashvili high enough to sail over a retaining barrier and into the steel support post.