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Georgia: track to blame for luger’s death

Georgia’s Olympic committe reacted angrily to the International Luge Federation blaming the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili during a practice run last week on human error:  "I exclude the possibility that Nodar was not experienced enough," committee chief Giorgi Natsvlishlili said in televised comments. "From my point of view the track was at fault." The International ...

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Georgia’s Olympic committe reacted angrily to the International Luge Federation blaming the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili during a practice run last week on human error: 

"I exclude the possibility that Nodar was not experienced enough," committee chief Giorgi Natsvlishlili said in televised comments. "From my point of view the track was at fault."

The International Luge Federation blamed the fatal crash on the luger, saying he had failed to compensate properly when he slid into the curve. But its chairman, Joseph Fendt, said Saturday the track had turned out to be far faster than its designers ever intended it to be, and Olympic officials have shortened it to slow speeds and altered it to keep lugers on the track if they crash.

"Safety standards were not properly observed," Mr. Natsvlishvili said.

He hinted that Georgia might take "further action" regarding the accident, but didn’t elaborate.

I don’t really know the ins and outs of luge politics, but it seems to me that shortening the track during competition constitutes an admission that there’s something wrong with the track. As Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said, "No sports mistake is supposed to lead to a death."

If indeed Kumaritashvili was not qualified to ride on the track — doubtful since he was ranked 44th in the world — that still doesn’t exactly exonerate the organizers.  Why are inexperienced riders being allowed to compete in such a dangerous sport at the Olympic level?

 Twitter: @joshuakeating

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