VANOC feared lugers would get “badly injured or worse”

Olympic officials identified risk of dangerous speeds a year before fatal crash

Almost one year ago today, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, died on a training run just hours before the Vancouver Games’ opening ceremonies. Today, documents obtained by The Globe and Mail show that VANOC chief John Furlong expressed concern that an athlete could get “badly injured or worse” on the controversial sliding track in Whistler almost a year before the Games began. In March 2009, Furlong received a copy of a letter sent to the luge track’s designer from the president of the International Luge Federation, Josef Fendt. Fendt expressed worry about the track’s speeds and the potentially unreasonable demand on the athletes. Following this, Furlong wrote to VANOC officials that echoed Fendt’s concern. “Imbedded in this note [cryptic as it may be] is a warning that the track is, in their view, too fast and someone could get badly hurt. An athlete gets badly injured or worse, and I think the case could be made that we were warned and did nothing. That said, I’m not sure where the way out is on this. Our legal guys should review at least.” The response from Tim Gayda, vice-president for sport, was: “I don’t believe there is anything to do.”

The Globe and Mail

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