Whistler Sliding Centre to release safety audit done on track
A year after receiving it, the Whistler Sliding Centre says it will finally release a safety audit done on its sliding track next month.
"We expect that the safety audit will be released by the end of October," writes Patricia Leslie in an email to CBC.ca.
Leslie is with Whistler Sports Legacies, the agency that now operates the Whistler Sliding Centre and its sliding track.
The WSC was told to conduct the safety audit by the B.C. Coroner's Office after the tragic death of Georgian Luger Nodor Kumaritashivili at the Vancouver Olympics.
Kumaritashivili catapulted out of the last turn in the track in a training run at a speed of 144 km/h and hit a steel post. At first, the International Luge Federation, FIL, blamed driver error for the accident.
But a CBC News/Fifth Estate investigation showed that FIL and officials with the Vancouver organizing committee, VANOC, were very concerned before the Olympics about speeds on the track that were higher than expected.
In one email, VANOC CEO John Furlong, in response to a letter from the FIL about the speeds on the track, wrote: "An athlete gets badly injured or worse and I think the case could be made we were warned and did nothing."
And in another letter, the president of the FIL wrote that the track was not supplied as ordered.
The Coroner’s report in the fall of 2010 called for a safety audit to review the track design with a goal of restoring confidence in the Whistler track.
The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology was chosen to conduct the audit.
SAIT delivered its report to the WSC in the fall of 2011.
At the time, the WSC repeatedly said it would release safety audit by the Summer of 2012.
"Important and comprehensive audits of this nature take time," writes Leslie in response to why it’s taken longer than expected to release the safety audit. "We want to make sure it meets the needs we identified when it was commissioned.
"We were provided with a draft of the report to ensure the deliverables were being met and to begin planning for recommendations. This is common practice with facility audits of this nature."
In the wake of Kumaritashvili’s death, no luger has ever started from the very top of the track again, and the FIL says no one ever will.