No single reason for luger’s death: report

The international luge federation blamed the death of Georgian racer Nodar Kumaritashvili on “driving errors,” saying Monday that “no single reason” caused his death in a training run at the Vancouver Olympics.


“Nodar did commit driving errors starting in curve 15-16, which as an accumulation ended in the impact that resulted in him leaving the track and subsequently hitting a post,” the report says.

During training in February, only hours before the opening ceremony, Kumaritashvili was flung from the ice at the Whistler Sliding Center and struck a steel pole after losing control of his sled on the final curve.

“After an in-depth analysis we concluded that there was no single reason, but a complex series of interrelated events which led to this tragedy,” FIL secretary general Svein Romstad said in a statement.

FIL cited Kumaritashvili’s tactical errors in preliminary findings within 24 hours of the February 12 fatality. The track reopened on a shorter, slower and safer course.

The $110 million track was built for the Olympics two years ago.

In Monday’s report, FIL defended Kumaritashvili’s credentials to compete at the Olympics.

“The documentation honours the sporting career of Nodar Kumaritashvili and demonstrates the qualification process of the Georgian luger to participate,” FIL said. “He earned the right to participate.”

The IOC has a policy of “universality” that helps fund many athletes from smaller countries and encourages governing bodies to find entries for them.

The Georgian was ranked 44th out of 65 sliders in the season-long World Cup standings.

“The FIL believes its current qualification system is correct and stringent enough,” the report says. “It does not foresee making any recommendations to the IOC for changes.”

The document, written by Romstad and fellow American official Claire DelNegro, was requested by the International Olympic Committee.

The report will be sent to the British Columbia coroner’s service. The Canadian authority is expected to publish its examination of how Kumaritashvili died next month. It could decide to hold a formal inquest hearing.

The debate will continue at the FIL Congress scheduled for June in Sochi, Russia – site of the 2014 Winter Games – which will soon build its own sliding track.

Sochi organisers have been told to keep well below the world-record 155 kph speeds reached in Whistler.

“The FIL is determined to do what it can to avoid a tragedy like this from occurring again,” the report says.