Blood on the track - Macleans.ca

Blood on the track

A reconstruction of events leading up to Georgian luger’s fatal trial run

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The decisions that led to the now highly-controversial luge and bobsled track at the Whistler Sliding Centre—which hurled Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili to his death in a trial run—were in part commercially-motivated, says the Wall Street Journal. It all started with officials wanting to place the track in a high-traffic tourist area with cold temperatures, which yielded a steeper, narrower site than ever before used for an Olympic track. As a result, trial runs on the track marked a “quantum leap” in typical speeds, causing the German designer to revise the track’s projected luge speeds to 5.5% higher than initially forecasted, up to 96 miles an hour (which is nine miles an hour faster than the standing 2000 world speed record). He informed the Vancouver Games’ organizers and the international luge and bobsledding governing bodies, who proceeded to sign off on the course’s speeds. By last year, some of those same officials were calling the speeds unsafe and made recommendations that future courses be built to a slower standard. The WSJ goes on to report that their reconstruction of events leading up to Kumaritashvili’s death reveal that the track was “the result of decisions that weren’t entirely related to sport.”

Wall Street Journal

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