Olympic track adjusted since luger's death
Coroner cites luger's inexperience and speed of track as death causes
The International Luge Federation says it has made changes in line with a B.C. coroner's report into the death of a Georgian athlete on the Whistler luge track on the opening day of the Vancouver Olympics.
Speeds on the Whistler track have been recalculated and the results are being studied, and the federation still intends to use Whistler for its World Championships, said federation secretary general Svein Romstad.
The B.C. Coroners Service concluded in a report released Monday that Nodar Kumaritashvili's inexperience on the high-speed luge track led to his death in Whistler just hours before the opening of the 2010 Winter Games.
Kumaritashvili, 21, lost control of his sled during a practice run, was thrown from the track and collided with a metal pillar. He died instantly.
The B.C. Coroners Service investigated his death, examining numerous factors related to the athlete, his sled, the track condition and design, training and preparation, and the circumstances surrounding the fateful training run.
Coroner Tom Pawlowski's report concluded Kumaritashvili died from multiple blunt force injuries, but blamed the accident on several factors, including the speed of the track and Kumaritashvili's inexperience.
"The relative lack of experience Mr. Kumaritashvili had on this challenging track set a backdrop for the incident and was a significant disadvantage, as far as safety was concerned, for the athlete entering the high pressure environment of the Olympic Games," he wrote.
The report also contained an extensive review of the construction and operation of the track and made three recommendations to enhance safety not only at the Whistler track, but also at luge tracks around the world.
Those recommendations were for an independent safety audit to review the operation of the Whistler track, for tighter standards for the design and construction of tracks internationally, and for more compulsory training for athletes on newly constructed tracks before major events.
In a statement following release of the document, Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee CEO John Furlong thanked the coroner for his in-depth report and said it would help all stakeholders learn from the accident.
"We trust that, going forward, all those involved in all high-speed and therefore high-risk winter sports — whether athletes, coaches, organizers or technical experts — will take to heart the cumulative learnings from this tragic accident at our Games."