WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — As workers continued grooming the final curve, luge officials delayed the reopening of the Whistler Sliding Center track, one day after a 21-year-old slider from the republic of Georgia died after a crash during training.
Luge officials also were told the men lugers will start their runs from the women’s start, which is further down the track. By adjusting the start, the men will not be able to reach their top speeds, which have been recorded at over 95 mph this week.
The sixth men’s training session was supposed to resume at 8 a.m. after being canceled Friday but has been pushed back until 9:02 a.m. American Tony Benshoof, who hurt his foot when he slammed into a wall on Friday, will be the first athlete to slide down the lightning-fast track.
Nodar Kumaritashvili died after he lost control in curve 15 and crashed in the 16th, finish curve. He was traveling at nearly 90 mph when he slammed into an unpadded steel support pole.
Officials also have modified the last turn where he crashed, erecting a 12-foot-high wooden wall to cover the exposed steel beams. In the last hour before practice resumed, workers scraped and shaped ice from the edges in the last turn. Officials said they have modified the exit in the curve.
Concerns about the lightning-fast course had been raised for months. There were worries that the $100 million-plus venue was too technically difficult, and a lack of significant practice time by everyone but the host nation’s sliders would result in a rash of accidents.
The International Luge Federation and Vancouver Olympic officials said Friday night their investigation showed that the crash was the result of human error and there was “no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track.”
In a joint statement they said Kumaritashvili was late coming out of the next-to-last turn and failed to compensate.
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