Luge officials move the start to slow down the sleds

[/caption] Following the death of Olympic competitor Nodar Kumaritashvili, Olympic luge competitors will now be starting at a lower ramp in an effort to reduce speeds on the Whistler Luge track, this despite an ‘investigation’ earlier which ruled out track design as an issue in the death. Men are now starting from what was the women’s start ramp, and women are now racing further down the track from the ‘juniors’ starting gate.  This move should slow down speeds along the course.  The course will now be 575 feet shorter and speeds should be reduced about 6 mph. However, many are acknowledging that the technical changes are not really the issue right now, but that mental changes are in order.

“You have an emotional component and you have a technical component,” Romstad said, his voice cracking as he tried to explain why what seems a fairly superficial fix is being instituted. “None of our athletes . . . They lost a friend yesterday. It’s an emotional experience, something they haven’t been through before.”

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

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.]]>

Full video of the Olympic Luge Crash of Nodar Kumaritashvilvi

This is really hard to watch. For those who have not heard, the luge athlete from Georgia was killed today in a freak accident on the very dangerous luge track in Vancouver.  Nodar Kumaritashvilvi accident propelled him off the track and into a steel girder at nearly 90 mph, which caused injuries that eventually cost him his life. A special moment of reflection will be held tonight during the opening ceremony.  IOC officials are meeting with the luge federation in an emergency meeting as to whether the luge will take place at the Olympics or if any other changes might be made to the schedule. Nodar was 21 years old. The full video of his run can be seen on NBC Olympics (requires the free Silverlight plugin).  It is graphic, partially in the sense you look at him and know what is coming. As NBC is limited to the USA, you might find other links here: Buzzfeed Seattle Post The IOC is shutting down Youtube videos for copyright reasons nearly as fast at they are being put up. ]]>