The 2010 Winter Olympics operated under a cloud after the tragic death of luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, from the Eastern European nation of Georgia. Crashing during a practice run, the 21 year old has become the fourth person to die in Winter Olympic history.
Three time Bermudian Olympian Patrick Singleton, who has twice competed in luge at the Olympics, was interviewed by the British press on the accident.
The Times Online of London quotes Mr. Singleton as saying:
The barrier on the exit of the curve was clearly not high enough. There was no barrier. When we came back for the Olympic test event last November, the wall was higher.
Crashes happen all the time and athletes make errors but you shouldn’t be able to come out of the track. They [the officials of the sport] always blame it on the athlete but it’s their fault as well. This guy shouldn’t have died.
The DailyMail quotes Mr. Singleton as saying:
There is a short wall to keep the athlete in the track and they added about three-and-a-half feet to it, but it was not enough. Had it been higher he would have bumped into it and dropped on to the track.
He would have been bruised and maybe he would have broken something but he would have been alive. The fact that he came out means there was a technical failure in the track.
‘Plywood sheeting probably costs about £5 and having about 10 of them on that wall would have saved that guy’s life.’
After the tragic death, officials changed the start gate of the men’s event to the women’s start, a distance of 30m which results in an average speed cut of 10kph.
The International Luge Federation [FIL] has stated:
Technical officials of FIL concluded that there was no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track.
21 year old Mr. Kumaritashvili had told his father just hours before the crash that he “really fears that curve” and that he “will either win or die“.
He was traveling at an estimated 90 mph [over four times the Bermuda speed limit] when the fatal crash took place. Click to enlarge photos:
Mr. Singleton appeared on both BBC and Bloomberg news, and discussed the crash, saying to Bloomberg:
For the FIL and the organizers to say it’s purely the responsibility of the athlete is nonsense, and in fact the Georgian President came out recently and said a similar thing.
I think that this track was clearly designed with too much speed. The Canadians wanted to have the fastest track in the world at the Olympics. It was sort of an ego thing.
The video below shows the full interview Mr. Singleton did with Bloomberg news:
Below is the raw video of the actual crash [via ABC News]. It normally take a very, very long time to load, sorry! Viewer discretion is advised.
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