Luge competition to resume on Saturday

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By Karolos Grohmann

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The Vancouver Olympics luge competition will resume on Saturday, a day after a Georgian athlete died in a training run, Games organizers said on Friday.

"The FIL (International Luge Federation) will resume men's training Saturday morning with two full training runs prior to the competition taking place as scheduled at 17h00 (0100 GMT)," VANOC said in a statement.

Georgian luge competitor Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed in a crash at the Whistler Sliding Center when he lost control at 90mph and was launched over the rim of the track before slamming into an unpadded pillar.

The 21-year-old died in hospital after medics performed resuscitation at the scene and flew him down the mountain.

His death, the first at a Winter Games since the 1992 Albertville Olympics, came on the day of the Games opening ceremony.

"It appears after a routine run, the athlete came late out of curve 15 and did not compensate properly to make correct entrance into curve 16," VANOC and FIL said in a joint statement.

"This resulted in a late entrance into curve 16 and although the athlete worked to correct the problem he eventually lost control of the sled resulting in the tragic accident."


VANOC and FIL said the British Columbia coroners service had also completed their investigation and although the accident was not caused by track deficiencies, alterations had now been made to avoid similar "exceptional" crashes.

Many athletes prior to the crash had said the track was extremely fast.

"The technical officials of the FIL were able to retrace the path of the athlete and concluded there was no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track," VANOC and FIL said.

"Based on these findings the race director, in consultation with the FIL, made the decision to reopen the track following a raising of the walls at the exit of curve 16 and a change in the ice profile."

"This was done as a preventative measure, in order to avoid that such an extremely exceptional accident could occur again," they said.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)