Luge leaders promise safety at Sochi Olympic track
Organizers of the 2014 Sochi Olympics will be “extra cautious”
building a sliding center after originally planning the world’s
fastest and most difficult track, a top Russian luge official said
Genady Rodionov told The Associated Press that the sport “must
try to exclude” incidents like the high-speed crash that killed
Nodar Kumaritashvili on the day the Vancouver Games opened Feb.
“For the whole luge family, it’s hard to bear what has
happened,” said Rodionov, vice president of the Russian federation
that is working with Sochi organizers to create the Olympic sliding
venue. “We’re extra cautious in our calculations, analyzing
Valery Silakov, the former Russian team head coach and now
federation president, said the track will still be “technically
Designs are being finished by Udo Gurgel, the veteran German
engineer who also created the Whistler course.
Rodionov and Silakov spoke outside of International Luge
Federation (FIL) meetings that helped complete the sport’s
investigation into Kumaritashvili’s fatal crash on the $110 million
Whistler track, which proved faster than intended.
The 21-year-old Georgian lost control of his sled on the final
curve at nearly 90 mph and was thrown clear of the ice before
slamming into a trackside steel support pillar.
Luge leaders, who will deliver their investigation report Monday
to the International Olympic Committee, are determined to restrict
racers to 85 mph at Sochi.
FIL president Josef Fendt said he wanted to avoid repeating the
experience at Whistler, where the track proved faster than when it
opened in 2008.
“We need this speed limit while planning a track; we can’t do
anything when a track is already being built,” Fendt told The AP
Fendt raised his concerns about plans for Sochi one year ago,
weeks after Germany’s Felix Loch clocked almost 96 mph during a
test event at Whistler. Loch would eventually win Olympic gold.
“That was the reason I sent that letter to Sochi after hearing
they were planning to build not only the most difficult, but the
fastest track as well,” Fendt said. “The (Sochi) track was
designed for speed over (89 mph). That was too much in our
Luge officials will soon visit the proposed sliding center,
which also will stage Olympic bobsled and skeleton racing, in the
mountain resort of Krasnaya Polyana.
The venue is 24 miles from the Black Sea city of Sochi, which
hosts the FIL Congress scheduled in June.
“We will be able to show the site. We will invite people from
government as well and lots of media,” said Rodionov, who is
organizing the congress where each luge nation can vote on proposed
changes that emerge from this weekend’s sessions.
In Russia, winter sports leaders are ready to present their
Olympic project after meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
“We decided that we should start building as early as possible.
By the end of 2011, we plan to be able to have competitions on the
new track,” Silakov said. “We will do our utmost to get it ready