Friday, February 12, 2010

Dangerous Speeds

Anyone who has seen the horrific footage of the fatal luge crash Friday in Whistler has to be concerned about the safety of the athletes competing on that course. This is the steepest and thus fastest course ever built, and the competitors have been reaching dangerous speeds well before the incident today. Whoever engineered the course was stupid to put giant steel columns coming out of the dangerous final turn, and that an athlete was killed smashing into one before the Games even officially opened should raise alarm bells.

They are yet to determine the best course of action, other than to perform some kind of magic trick on the ice and put up a padded wall where the athlete was killed. But if the CSI team determines that the track is not safe for competition, the only options are to cancel the sledding events, or relocate them to the track in Calgary. It is beyond my expertise to suggest a best course of action, but there are serious concerns about the ability of these athletes to handle speeds in excess of 140 kmh. I never go that fast in my car, much less on a tiny sled with no seatbelt, air bag, or protection of any kind.

Perhaps this is the risk you assume when you decide that you want to luge for a career. Same with ski jump. You have to agree that you can be seriously injured when you sign the permission slip. My question to you is, if the course is too fast, should the sledding competitors be relocated to Calgary?


  1. "The death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was a result of the athlete losing control of his sled and not an unsafe track, the International Luge Federation said Friday night in a statement.

    The men's singles luge competition will take place as scheduled at 5 p.m. PT on Saturday, after the completion of two practice runs. The luge federation did say that open it would raise the walls at the exit of curve 16 and shave down the ice, altering the sliding lines."

  2. "Despite the federation's declaration of a safe track concerns were raised well beforehand about the 1,450-metre course, its 16 turns and the fact the track record (153.937 kilometres an hour) was broken five times here in training. U.S. and international athletes had complained they weren't given enough time to learn how to master the course, given the speed it generated. Shelley Rudman, a skeleton racer from Great Britain, said she barely had a chance to "get an idea what this track is all about."

  3. You have to wonder why they'd of made this track so fast and dangerous!

    Could it have something to do with the desire to invoke a reputation of being edgy and "Crazy Canuck-ish"?

    It's always an easy thing to do when it's not your neck that’s in the noose!

    This is going to be the un-bleachable stain on these games, unless another “accidental death” occurs on this track. Then it’ll be a lot more than a stain.

  4. Send it to Calgary. Wayne Gretzky can run up the tower to light it again; and it will be party time as it was 12 years ago.