Report: Luger dies in training-run crash
Kumaritashvili from ex-Soviet republic of Georgia hits steel pole
updated 3:11 p.m. ET, Fri., Feb. 12, 2010
WHISTLER, British Columbia - A men's Olympic luger from the former Soviet republic of Georgia reportedly died after crashing during a training run Friday.
The Toronto Sun reported that Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed after losing control of his sled, going over the track wall and hitting a steel pole near the finish line at the Whistler Sliding Center.
Emergency crews performed CPR on the 21-year-old athlete, a native of Borjomi, Georgia, but were unable to save his life.
"I've never seen anything like that," said Shiva Keshavan, a four-time Olympian from India said before knowing Kumaritashvili's fate. "I'm afraid it's bad."
Training was suspended indefinitely. Members of the International Luge Federation were called for a briefing and team captains from each nation were asked to attend a meeting.
Kumaritashvili competed in five World Cup races this season, finishing 44th in the world standings.
Earlier in the day, gold-medal favorite Armin Zoeggeler of Italy crashed, losing control of his sled also around Curve 11. Zoeggeler came off his sled, held it with his left arm to keep it from smashing atop his body, and slid on his back down several curves before coming to a stop and walking away.
Training days in Whistler have been crash-filled, with a Romanian woman briefly knocked unconscious and at least four Americans -- Chris Mazdzer on Wednesday, Megan Sweeney on Thursday and both Tony Benshoof and Bengt Walden on Friday in the same training session where Zoeggeler wrecked -- having serious trouble just getting down the track.
“I think they are pushing it a little too much,” Australia’s Hannah Campbell-Pegg said Thursday night after she nearly lost control in training. “To what extent are we just little lemmings that they just throw down a track and we’re crash-test dummies? I mean, this is our lives.”