Federation warned about Oly luge track

Feb. 7, 2011 at 10:09 AM
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A Vancouver Olympics committee was warned nearly a year before the 2010 Games that the luge course, where a racer was killed, was dangerous, officials said.

The International Luge Federation sent a letter to the track's designer and the Olympics organizing committee raising concerns about the high speeds sledders could reach on the track, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said Monday.

Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed in a practice run after losing control of his sled near the end of the course.

The CBC obtained e-mails the organizing committee sent and received discussing the design of the course through British Columbia's Access to Information Act.

The CBC said the e-mail thread was written after the committee received a copy of the federation letter expressing its concern about the course.

"There is nothing to do on our side but it does put in writing concern about the speeds of the track if there was ever an incident," wrote Tim Gayda, managing director of sport for the organizing committee.

Committee Chief Executive Officer John Furlong's e-mails about the track and his public comments were contradictory, the report said.

In an e-mail, Furlong wrote that the federation letter was "cryptic" but contained "a warning that the track is in their view too fast and someone could get badly hurt. An athlete gets badly injured or worse and I think the case could be made we were warned and did nothing."

The CBC reported that after Kumaritashvili's death Furlong said, "It's not something I prepared for or ever thought I would have to be prepared for."

The luge federation called for changes in six high-profile curves, including curves 15 and 16, where Kumaritashvili apparently lost control of his sled.

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