|Georgian Olympic Committee Targets Track, Not Athlete, in Luge Death|
|February 18, 2010|
By SAMANTHA SHIELDS
TBILISI, Georgia—In its strongest condemnation yet of the horrific accident that killed 21-year-old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili hours before the opening of the Winter Olympics, the Georgian Olympic Committee on Thursday blamed the track, not the athlete.
"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."
Mr. Kumaritashvili died in a training accident when he lost control of his luge on the final turn of the track at the Whistler Sliding Centre, the world's fastest, and hit a steel support at 90 miles an hour.
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. Mr. Kumaritashvili's father said Monday that the family wouldn't pursue a lawsuit over his death.
"Let's wait for the results of the investigation and then decide together with the family," Mr. Natsvlishvili said.
Mr Kumaritashvili's body was returned Wednesday to Georgia and will be buried in his hometown, the small ski resort of Bakuriani about 110 miles west of the capital Tbilisi, Saturday afternoon.
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