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Deadly Olympic luge track: What the warnings were Add to ...

Early stage: VANOC concerned, but sports federations say no major course changes needed

• November 2003 - The objectives for the WSC [Whistler Sliding Centre]are developed in a series of meetings involving the FIL [Fédération Internationale de Luge de Course] FIBT [Fédération Internationale de Bobsleigh et de Tobogganing]and VANOC. The two IFs want "a longer, more difficult track." VANOC's position is that as organizers of the Games, they will deliver what is required by the IFs.

• February 2005. Concerns arise with regard to athlete safety at the recently constructed and homologated track in Cesana Pariol, site of the 2006 Torino Winter Games.

• World Cup luge event is cancelled after crashes resulting in serious injuries.

• VANOC becomes concerned as the same designer is responsible for both tracks.

• Costly modifications are required at the Torino track. Question arises whether similar modifications are required for the Whistler track.

• Following discussions involving the two IFs and the designer, it is decided that no major design changes are necessary for Whistler

December, 2007. Venue construction significantly completed.

FIL raises worry over track speed

March 2008. Very fast times recorded. Both IFs are happy with the results, but it is recognized that all training should start from lower starts positions and gradually progress higher up.

• Feb. 2009. FIBT Bobsleigh Skeleton World Cup. Record times are attained; the FIBT is happy with the results.

• Feb. 2009. FlL Luge World Cup. Record times are attained; the FIL appears to be concerned.

• March 2009. The President of the FIL sends a letter IBG [luge track designer] expressing surprise at the speeds attained by luge athletes. "The men even reached 154 km per hour. Due to the excellent ice work done on the track most of the athletes were able to cope with the extremely high speeds. Nevertheless, overstepping this limit would be an absolute unreasonable demand for the athletes."

• "Due to our experience with the newly-constructed artificial tracks in the past, it has to be expected that speeds driven during the first races will increase in the following years. This causes me great worry!"

• We would appreciate your response concerning these mistakes made in your designs and calculations, particularly with regards to the next Olympic track to be designed in Sochi, Russia."

A copy of the letter is sent to VANOC and the FIBT. This triggers a brief discussion at VANOC, with a conclusion that no action is required.

The FIL does not instruct VANOC to do anything. Because of the higher speeds, graduated training and more training time is advocated.

• April 4, 2009. [Course designer]Udo Gurgel responds to FIL concerns with a letter that suggests the discrepancies are a result of improvements of the aerodynamics and ice friction of the runners caused by innovation and development of equipment and clothes.

Training begins, death follows

• November 2009. International training week. Nodar Kumaritashvili takes a total of 20 practice runs, commencing with the novice start and ending with 11 runs from the men's start.

• January 2010. Unseeded nations can request extra training time. The Georgian team does not take this opportunity.

• February 10-12, 2010 - official training for the Winter Games. Nodar Kumaritashvili takes 6 practice runs with progressively faster times.

• He crashes on Feb. 12 on his second run of the day.

Some entries from the original report have been deleted

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