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12 Feb 10,, 23:29
Luger from Georgia dead after high-speed crash at Olympics
February 12, 2010 Dave Perkins

WHISTLER, B.C. – Nodar Kumaritashvili never had a chance.

He crashed almost head-first into a steel support pole after losing control of his luge at the Olympic Sliding Centre Friday morning.

The scene of the crash was no more than five or six metres from the $105 million centre’s first-aid station and medical personnel responded immediately, but the racer had no chance to survive the impact.

He was travelling a measured 134 km/h at the finish line of the course in his sixth and final practice run for the men’s singles luge event, but lost control and hurtled off the track. In a split-second, his sled careered off to the right and he was launched left, brushing a wooden partition that sits atop the side of the track, presumably meant to contain airborne racers within the track.

But Kumaritashvili hit at the very end of that partition – which was bent out slightly afterward – and kept travelling forward and to the left, straight into the 10-foot-tall steel beams that hold up the protective sun roof.

Kumaritashvili, who also crashed in Wednesday’s second training run, was quickly administered CPR and a handful of reporters who got within about 40 feet of the accident scene saw a plastic breathing tube inserted into his mouth.

Back at the finish line, where the competition was suspended indefinitely, the mood instantly turned numb. The only noise was the ring or buzz of cellphones as coaches and athletes who had finished their runs – 20 of the 36-man field had yet to race – stood around quietly, seeking reliable information and looking out through red-rimmed eyes.

The severity of the crash was obvious, although it wasn’t until nearly an hour and a half later that the International Olympic Committee confirmed what every witness to the crash knew at the moment of impact: The 21-year-old from Borjomi, Georgia, was dead.

“The whole Olympic Family is struck by this tragedy, which clearly casts a shadow over these Games,” said IOC president Jacques Rogge in a statement.

The IOC said that “an investigation is underway into the circumstances of the accident. Training was suspended and technical officials are now trying to establish the causes.”

The safety of the Whistler Sliding Centre had been called into question many times before this fatal crash. Earlier in the day, world champion and Olympic gold medal favourite Armin Zoeggeler had crashed late in his run, although he was not hurt.

A weeping Irakli Japaridze told the Star’s Petti Fong and two Georgian newspaper reporters in a telephone interview. “It’s a big tragedy.”

Officials said they were trying to reach the young man’s family in Georgia, a former republic of the Soviet Union.

“He was not our famous athlete but people in Georgia knew him,” one Georgian reporter told Fong. “Luge is not that big a sport.”

“This was his first Olympics, his first time here” another reporter told Fong. “He was excited. He wanted to do well.”

CTV luge analyst Chris Wightman said experienced lugers aren’t having problems on the course but that less experienced riders are finding it hugely challenging.

Wightman suggested that Plexiglas or some other protective material could be added to the curve where Kumaritashvili flew off the course.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Shiva Keshavan, a four-time Olympian from India.

“It’s a very rare situation,” three-time Olympic champion and German coach Georg Hackl said. “But there’s some things that you can’t do anything about.’’

Kumaritashvili competed in five World Cup races this season, finishing 44th in the world standings.

A Romanian woman was briefly knocked unconscious and at least four Americans—Chris Mazdzer on Wednesday, Megan Sweeney on Thursday and both Tony Benshoof and Bengt Walden on Friday in the same training session where Zoeggeler wrecked—have had serious trouble just getting down the track.

“I think they are pushing it a little too much,” Australia’s Hannah Campbell-Pegg said Thursday night 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.’’
Luger from Georgia dead after high-speed crash at Olympics - Vancouver 2010 Olympics - thestar.com (http://olympics.thestar.com/2010/article/764626--umm-so)

Rest in Peace...

13 Feb 10,, 04:59
just saw that on TV with my family. OMG...