Investigation of fatal luge accident finds human error, not track problems

The Vancouver Olympic committee has issued a statement on the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili.

The track was closed for an investigation by the coroners office in Canada.  Once they had the evidence they needed for their investigation, they turned it over to the FIL (International Luge Federation).  The luge federation and the Vancouver Olympics determined ‘human error‘ was to blame for the crash, not the track design itself.

It appears after a routine run, the athlete came late out of curve 15 and did not compensate properly to make correct entrance into curve 16. This resulted in a late entrance into curve 16 and although the athlete worked to correct the problem he eventually lost control of the sled resulting in the tragic accident.  The technical officials of the FIL were able to retrace the path of the athlete and concluded there was no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track.

There have been several other accidents on this track, in both luge and bobsled.  One corner is now known as “50-50 corner” as you have a 50% chance you’ll crash coming through it.  There are others who still blame the track, even in light of the official report from the Olympic committee.

From a layman’s perspective, it looks kind of silly to have large metal poles located on the ‘downwind-inertia’ side of the track, i.e. the place where the body would naturally go in a crash.  But watching the horrific luge crash video you see his body did sort of go back and forth and I’m not certain the ‘flow’ of the track led to him going in that direction any more than it would have resulted in him jumping the wall in the other direction had he crashed a bit earlier.

Vancouver residents have set up a makeshift memorial to luger Nodar Kumaritashvili in the city center.