Georgian luger killed in Olympic training run

Track has reputation as one of the fastest, most dangerous in the world

Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed during an Olympic training run in Whistler on Friday. He was given emergency resuscitation and died on-site. The crash occurred at the fastest point in the track—a 270-degree turn where speeds approach 140km/hr—when he flipped off his sled and was thrown into a steel pole. This was the second of two high-speed crashes on Friday, and one of almost a dozen since training began. “I think they are pushing it a little too much,” Australia’s Hannah Campbell-Pegg told the Associated Press on Thursday after she nearly lost control in training. “To what extent are we just little lemmings that they just throw down a track and we’re crash-test dummies? I mean, this is our lives.” British skeleton’s performance director, Andi Schmid, said that limited training time in the lead up to the Games increased the risk of accidents. “I would say especially for speed sports you need to have more access to tracks and whoever organizes the Olympics needs to offer that,” he said. “Not only so that everyone has a fair chance but also because of the danger. We need to be careful so that these sports stay great action sports and don’t become dangerous killer sports.” Olympic historian David Wallechinsky told the New York Times on Wednesday that there have been no deaths during official Winter Olympics competitions (though there have been two during Summer Games: a marathon runner in 1912 and a cyclist in 1960).

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