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Vancouver death - blame it on the luger

A Canadian coroner has sought to shift the blame for the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili from VANOC on to his alleged inexperience. However, Georgian Olympic Head Giorgi Natsvlishvili rejected the finding saying "It is nonsense to say that an athlete who was officially listed among the world's 40 best lugers ... lacked experience."

"This tragedy would not have happened in conditions of better safety for the athletes at the track."

This opinion is supported by the fact that the Vancouver course was the fastest in the world and the scene of multiple accidents. The Huffington Post reported training on the course had been 'crash-filled': 'Training days in Whistler have been crash-filled. 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."'

A two time Olympic Luge competitor, Werner Hoeger, crashed in November 2009 and then warned orgnisers of a range of hazards. He had also come off the course.

The coroner noted that the president of the International Luge Federation (FIL) had raised concerns about the Whistler track a year before the Games began.

"[He] sent a letter to the track designer, with a copy to Vanoc, expressing surprise that speeds of 154 km/h had been reached [during events on the track] and stating the designer's calculations of the top speeds were incorrect."

However, in his report, the Coroner Tom Pawlowski said Vanoc's director of sport "indicated ... his organization's assessment at that time was that the track was indeed faster than originally pre-calculated, but there was no indication that the athletes would be unable to manage the speeds safely."

No indication? Even so the coroner bought the argument.


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