By Duncan Mackay in Vancouver

February 12 - The Olympic luge competition will go ahead as scheduled tomorrow, despite the death of Georgia's Nodar Kumaritashvili earlier in practice, officials announced here tonight. 



A statement released tonight said: "The International Luge Federation (FIL) is deeply saddened by the death of the Georgian athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili, member of our Luge Family, who was fatally injured during the final training session in the last corner of the track at the Whistler Sliding Centre on Friday morning.

"The Coroners Service of British Columbia, responsible for the investigation of all sudden deaths, together with the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), concluded their on-scene investigations on the track and transferred the decision to FIL when the track can be re-opened.

"The FIL, through its technical officials, further investigated into the cause of this tragic incident.

"Based on a physical inspection of the track and a thorough review of the tapes they have concluded the following:

"It appears after a routine run, the athlete came late out of curve 15 and did not compensate properly to make correct entrance into curve 16.

"This resulted in a late entrance into curve 16 and although the athlete worked to correct the problem he eventually lost control of the sled resulting in the tragic accident. 

"The technical officials of the FIL were able to retrace the path of the athlete and concluded there was no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track.

"Based on these findings the race director, in consultation with the FIL, made the decision to reopen the track following a raising of the walls at the exit of curve 16 and a change in the ice profile.

"This was done as a preventative measure, in order to avoid that such an extremely exceptional accident could occur again.  

"The FIL will resume men´s training Saturday morning with two full training runs prior to the competition taking place as scheduled at 17h00."



When the course was proposed in 2005, Lorenz Kosichek, project manager for the design firm Stantec, said: "It will be the most challenging track in the world."

Earlier, before the tragic events unfolded, defending Olympic champion Armin Zoeggeler (pictured) had also crashed.

The Italian's sled came out from under him and appeared to hit him in the face.

He slid for about 100 metres before coming to a stop.

He walked away and appeared unhurt.

Yesterday, Romanian women's slider Violeta Stramaturaru crashed and had to be airlifted out.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]insidethegames.biz


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