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

(Newser) – 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.

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 hospital and...
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...   (Morry Gash)
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.
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.   (Morry Gash)
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.
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.   (Morry Gash)
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 hospital and...
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...   (Morry Gash)
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 hospital and...
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...   (Morry Gash)
Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia is seen just before crashing during a training run for the men's singles luge at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010.
Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia is seen just before crashing during a training run for the men's singles luge at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010.   (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)
In this frame grab taken from video provided by the IOC Media Broadcast, Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili moments after he lost control of his sled and crashed during a high-speed training run at the Olympic Sliding Center in Whistler, British Columbia, as a volunteer runs to his aid Friday...
In this frame grab taken from video provided by the IOC Media Broadcast, Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili moments after he lost control of his sled and crashed during a high-speed training run...   (Morry Gash)
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 hospital and...
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...   (Morry Gash)
Track volunteers comfort each other as an ambulance carries Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili to medical attention following his crash during men's luge training, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010, at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games in Whistler, British Columbia.
Track volunteers comfort each other as an ambulance carries Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili to medical attention following his crash during men's luge training, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010, at the 2010...   (Jeff McIntosh)
Wolfgang Harder, spokesman for the International Luge Federation, center, reacts to the accident involving Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia during a men's singles luge training run at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, Friday, Feb. 12, 2010.
Wolfgang Harder, spokesman for the International Luge Federation, center, reacts to the accident involving Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia during a men's singles luge training run at the Vancouver 2010...   (Elise Amendola)
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