Whistler track designer: Safety was top priority

Whistler track designer: Safety was top priority

Published Feb. 23, 2010 6:05 p.m. ET

The designer of the crash-plagued Whistler Sliding Center track said there was never any pressure from Olympic organizers to make the circuit as fast as possible.

``No, not at all, in no shape or form,'' veteran track designer Ugo Gurgel said in a telephone interview Tuesday with The Associated Press.

Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed when his sled flew off the track at speeds nearing 90 mph during a training run just hours before the Olympic flame was lit. After an investigation by local authorities, officials of the Vancouver Organizing Committee and International Luge Federation blamed the fatal crash on human error.

Asked whether the course was too fast, Gurgel replied: ``It is fast. As I have said before, if fast means dangerous, then yes.''