Human Error Blamed for Luger's Death

Olympics officials raise wall, but only as extra precaution
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 13, 2010 5:19 AM CST
Human Error Blamed for Luger's Death
In this frame grab taken from video provided by the IOC Media Broadcast, Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili loses control of his sled and crashes during a high-speed training run at the Olympic Sliding Center in Whistler, British Columbia, Friday Feb. 12, 2010. Kumaritashvili later died at a...   (Morry Gash)

Fast and frightening, yes. Responsible for the death of a luger, no. Olympic officials decided late last night against any delays or major changes in the track—even doubling up on the schedule after the horrifying accident that killed 21-year-old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili. They said they would raise the wall where the slider flew off the track and make an unspecified "change in the ice profile" —but only as a preventative measure "to avoid that such an extremely exceptional accident could occur again."

The International Luge Federation and Vancouver Olympic officials said the crash was the result of human error and that "there was no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track." In a joint statement they said Kumaritashvili was late coming out of the next-to-last turn and failed to compensate. "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." Men lugers, who were scheduled to finish training yesterday morning, will get two extra practice runs today. (More 2010 Vancouver Olympics stories.)

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