Olympic Luger Dies

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Lord Aurora
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Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Lord Aurora » Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:33 pm UTC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/olympic ... 513595.stm

Spoiler:
The death of a luge competitor who left the track at high speed has cast a shadow over the Winter Olympics in Canada ahead of the opening ceremony.

Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili's sled flipped and he smashed into a steel pole at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

An Olympic official later confirmed the 21-year-old had died as a result.

Training was immediately suspended after the accident, which happened just hours before the ceremony to open the 21st Winter Games in Vancouver.

Kumaritashvili's sled struck the inside of the track's last turn during his sixth and final training run, sending his body into the air and over a concrete wall.

His sled remained on the track, and the visor from his helmet appeared to continue down the ice.

"The whole Olympic family is struck by this tragedy, which clearly casts a shadow over these Games"

Jacques Rogge
IOC President

Medical staff at the track and doctors at a local hospital tried to resuscitate Kumaritashvili, part of a seven-strong Georgian team, but the country's Olympic delegation later confirmed he had died as a result of his injuries.

"We are all in deep shock, we don't know what to do. We don't know whether to take part in the opening ceremony or even the Olympic Games themselves," said delegation head Irakly Japaridze.

"The whole Olympic family is struck by this tragedy which clearly casts a shadow over these Games," said International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge.

BBC Sport's Colin Bryce, a former British bobsleigh competitor, said Kumaritashvili was "clearly nervous going down the final run - you could see his head sticking up."

WHISTLER SLIDING CENTRE
Opened: Winter 2008
Vertical drop: 152m
Max gradient: 20%
Track top speed: 95.65mph (153.93kph)
Cost: 104m Can dollars (£63m)
Average speed at Whistler is 15mph greater than at other tracks
Average vertical drop at Whistler is 28m greater than at other tracks

Bryce added: "He was very scared going down the fast corners.

"It's up to the organisers whether there is such a small percentage chance of that happening again that we continue with the race, or whether we stop."

BBC Sport understands organisers currently expect the Olympic luge competition, scheduled to begin on Saturday, to continue after team leaders met and agreed not to abandon it.

But top IOC officials are heading to Whistler and may reverse that decision.

The track at Whistler, which is shared by the sports of luge, skeleton and bobsleigh, already has a reputation as one of the fastest - and most dangerous - in the world.

In the build-up to the Games several teams had raised concerns about the safety of athletes, who regularly exceed 90mph as they compete, though Kumaritashvili crashed at a corner which had not been previously identified as a danger area.

Before the incident, British skeleton slider Amy Williams told BBC Sport: "I just hope Whistler is safe and that there aren't too many crashes and serious injuries."

Australia's Hannah Campbell-Pegg added: "I think they are pushing it a little too much.

"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."

Their comments followed earlier accidents, including one involving gold medal favourite Armin Zoeggeler of Italy and several during women's luge training runs on Wednesday.

Among those to crash was Romania's Violeta Stramaturaru, who was knocked unconscious for a few minutes and taken to hospital.

The track is where British competitor Adam Rosen crashed during training in October last year. He suffered a dislocated hip as well as nerve and tendon damage.

After intensive rehabilitation, Rosen made the team for his second Winter Games and was taking part in the same training session when Kumaritashvili crashed

British skeleton's performance director, Andi Schmid, said a lack of track time for athletes in the run-up to the Games had increased the risk of accidents.

"I would say especially for speed sports you need to have more access to tracks and whoever organises the Olympics needs to offer that," said Schmid during preparations for the Games.

"Not only so that everyone has a fair chance but also because of the danger. We need to be careful so that these sports stay great action sports and don't become dangerous killer sports.

"I'm not saying that will happen but some athletes from other nations are less experienced."

Kumaritashvili competed in five World Cup races this season, finishing 44th in the world standings.

Prior to the Vancouver Games, no Winter Olympic athlete had been killed during an event.

But the 1964 Games in Innsbruck were overshadowed by the deaths of two competitors before it began.

British luger Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski was killed during practice two weeks before on the Igls Olympic track, and Australian skier Ross Milne died during training for the same Games.

A minute's silence for the pair was observed at the opening ceremony.
Kind of too lazy to clean up the article text in the spoiler, I'm sure it has all those weird things you get when you copy paste.

NEXT LINKS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART

HD footage of the accident (sing in to FB to view): http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php ... 489&ref=nf

And the Huffington Post has some pictures of the rescue attempts: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/1 ... 60474.html

Not that luging is particularly safe anyway, but I can see a shitstorm of new safety measures coming out of this.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Omegaton » Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:52 pm UTC

I'm no luger, so I don't know how dangerous the sport normally is, but I would NOT compete on that track. Olympic athletes do not need the threat of death when they compete. This is a damned shame.

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby J the Ninja » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:35 pm UTC

I wonder how it happened? It's not obvious from the video what happened, he just went airborne when he came around the turn. Needless to say, this is very tragic. Although, with a sport like luge you really have to wonder how rare this sort of thing is. I mean, you can see the speed counter right there on the video, he was going 130+ km/h down an ice track on a tiny little sled. This has never struck me as a terribly safe sport.

P.S. If you copy and paste from the "print friendly version" it will usually avoid all that extra fluff and just get the article text.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Omegaton » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:40 pm UTC

J the Ninja wrote:I wonder how it happened? It's not obvious from the video what happened, he just went airborne when he came around the turn.

He hits the inner corner of the track after making that turn, which presumably is avoided by staying around the outside of the track when making that turn.

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Gelsamel » Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:04 pm UTC

I've always wondered why the tracks are so open... I mean I know they need to make money and have people sitting close by to see the action and have cameras show awesome angles and stuff... But it seems like it would make it a huge amount more dangerous than it would to just have a big ass clear area with padding where the dangerous turns are or heaps of other safety things.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby The Reaper » Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:22 pm UTC

:(! could have been avoided by a few more bolts and some sheet metal strips. A shame, indeed.

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby BlackSails » Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:46 pm UTC

Omegaton wrote:I'm no luger, so I don't know how dangerous the sport normally is, but I would NOT compete on that track. Olympic athletes do not need the threat of death when they compete. This is a damned shame.


Plenty of olympic sports are really dangerous, especially in the winter olympics.

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby psychosomaticism » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:16 am UTC

I would hate to be the guy next in line.

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Dream » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:20 am UTC

BlackSails wrote:
Omegaton wrote:I'm no luger, so I don't know how dangerous the sport normally is, but I would NOT compete on that track. Olympic athletes do not need the threat of death when they compete. This is a damned shame.


Plenty of olympic sports are really dangerous, especially in the winter olympics.

Absolutely. Downhill skiing is every bit as dangerous as luge, even though it's slower. Ski jumping, of course. It's dangerous, but the participants are professional and they have enough safety that it's not statistically risky. Statistics do not change the nature of the beast, however.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Gelsamel » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:25 am UTC

All these sports are going to be dangerous. But it seems, to me, that for the luge they sacrifice a whole lot of potential safety to get better looking shots etc.

With the ski jumping and stuff like that there isn't much control you have over what happens. But with an entirely man made ice track you're saying we can't make it safer then it's presented here?
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Dream » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:36 am UTC

I think you'd basically have to enclose the entire track into a tube, because predicting the path of objects in a 90mph crash is going to be impossible. I think you'd find the same resistance to that that you'd find in enclosing the cockpit or wheels of F1 cars. Sure, it safer, but it's just not the same sport. It might seem trivial to lay people, but I bet the competitors would object. And it still wouldn't eliminate the risks of being killed in the run by your own sled.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Gelsamel » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:43 am UTC

Dream wrote:I think you'd basically have to enclose the entire track into a tube, because predicting the path of objects in a 90mph crash is going to be impossible. I think you'd find the same resistance to that that you'd find in enclosing the cockpit or wheels of F1 cars. Sure, it safer, but it's just not the same sport. It might seem trivial to lay people, but I bet the competitors would object. And it still wouldn't eliminate the risks of being killed in the run by your own sled.


Right, but leaving metal poles just slightly outside the tubes? Not giving padding areas outside the tube... stuff like that? Wouldn't that help, maybe not in this case, but in some cases where the person just makes it out a live it will have been because of these extra precautions.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Ivora » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:53 am UTC

Is it wrong that I laughed as his body flew off the thing like a rag doll?

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Dream » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:58 am UTC

Yeah, I think it's very had to believe there was a solid metal post only metres from the pipe, and no cover for it. Almost liability hard to believe. But there's another issue. What if it is more dangerous for lugers to run in more enclosed spaces, because of distance and angle judgment? What if adding longer, higher banks would just make them turn faster, in the way that adding safety features to F1 cars (again, I know) just makes them drive faster and use up the new safety envelope? It might not be as simple as adding safety features, because the features that seem sensible to us might well be ridiculous to anyone in the sport.

Ivora wrote:Is it wrong that I laughed as his body flew off the thing like a rag doll?

Yes, actually, it is. He died just then. And you laughed.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Princess Marzipan » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:46 am UTC

Dream wrote:
Ivora wrote:Is it wrong that I laughed as his body flew off the thing like a rag doll?

Yes, actually, it is. He died just then. And you laughed.

Well if you had an involuntary chuckle such as sometimes happens when you view something unexpected, or when you see someone fall down, no. Because watching people fall down actually stays funny once you know they ended up okay.

So if you're looking for validation for an involuntary reaction... it's involuntary. No one fucking cares.

If you're looking for validation for the fact that you still find it funny knowing he died, then yes. That's pretty wrong akshully.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Dream » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:50 am UTC

Princess Marzipan wrote:So if you're looking for validation for an involuntary reaction... it's involuntary. No one fucking cares.

If you're looking for validation for the fact that you still find it funny knowing he died, then yes. That's pretty wrong akshully.

I can only imagine one of these two making a person post on a forum after the fact. It's not the one no one cares about.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Rockberry » Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:30 am UTC

Quite shocking. But it always seemed like a very risky sport to me.

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Qaanol » Sat Feb 13, 2010 2:37 am UTC

Wow. That is sad.

I wonder just how dangerous luge is statistically. And skeleton, luge's non-feet-first counterpart.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby poxic » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:01 am UTC

Yeah, some people in our office were standing around the TV (installed a couple of days ago so we could catch Olympic stuff at work) when they showed that clip. About half an hour or an hour later, we heard that the chap had died. It was the main topic of conversation for the whole afternoon. Pretty depressing. I was on the edge of tears for a couple of hours and I hadn't even seen the clip. (I was probably already in a down mood, though.)

Lots of talk about what they should or shouldn't do to make the track safer, who did or didn't sign off on it, whether the sport was or was not insane to begin with. I heard that there will be a press conference tomorrow where some of these questions might get answered (except maybe the last one).

:(
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Gelsamel » Sat Feb 13, 2010 3:48 am UTC

I heard that this track was the fastest one (or rather, the one with the largest drop over the shortest distance) yet. I wouldn't be surprised if that was a major influencing factor rather than skill or error on the athlete's part. That being said... Luge is really dangerous and it's not like we've never seen this happen before.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Vieto » Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:13 am UTC

On a first note, I must say that it is sad and unfortunate that someone had to die so young. :(



On a second, note, I think the designers of the track either played too much or too little RC Tycoon, I'm not sure.

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby poxic » Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:27 am UTC

The ... extremeness? ... of the track could have been a (conscious or not) reaction to the last Olympics in Canada, in Calgary in 1988. The luge track there was so easy and safe that it was criticised by a lot of the competitors. No one died, though.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby ginadagny » Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:52 am UTC

Ugh, what an awful way to start things off. The Georgian team looked very solemn as they marched into BC place, rightfully so.

That luge track is supposed to be one of the most difficult/dangerous in the world. Where the luger died was called the "50/50" where they say you have a ~50% chance of wiping out..

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby netcrusher88 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:11 am UTC

I don't really think adding padding to tubes and such outside the track would help much. If you get thrown off the track, you're getting thrown into structural steel at over 100 kph and it doesn't really matter how soft it is because it's not moving. Then again, I don't know.

Qaanol wrote:I wonder just how dangerous luge is statistically. And skeleton, luge's non-feet-first counterpart.

If I remember right from the chatter when it was introduced as a permanent event in the 2002 Olympics, skeleton is actually surprisingly safe when compared to luge or even bobsledding. I think it's mainly because the sled is a little fiberglass thing that weighs next to nothing and if you screw up you will almost always slow down quickly - either from dragging your feet, winding up sideways (skeleton sleds don't actually have skates), or screwing up the aerodynamics (which are that important with skeleton) just enough - reducing the chance of going out of control at a ridiculous speed and being thrown off the track.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Gelsamel » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:10 pm UTC

http://www.news.com.au/world/olympic-lu ... 5829919633

AUSTRALIAN luge athlete Hannah Campbell-Pegg warned that Whistler's superfast course would kill somebody - and 24 hours later it happened.

...

Even before the crash, several luge athletes had warned the Vancouver course was unusually dangerous.

Sydney's Hannah Campbell-Pegg, 27, nearly lost control during a practise run on Thursday night.

"I think they are pushing it a little too much," she said.

"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."

The luge crash was the second in two days and the German mastermind behind the track has admitted that safety modifications are needed following the tragedy,

"We now have to consider how we can alter the piste. At the exit area we could increase the height of the walls by some 40 to 50 centimeters,'' he told German sports daily Sport Bild.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Qaanol » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:58 pm UTC

Do you suppose the rest of the Olympic lugers will compete, or boycott the track?
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby MrGee » Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:47 pm UTC

A safer track would be nice. On the other hand, if you don't want to die like a lemming, be an accountant.

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby crowey » Sat Feb 13, 2010 8:04 pm UTC

Qaanol wrote:Do you suppose the rest of the Olympic lugers will compete, or boycott the track?

according to the coverage at the moment they are all competing. the start for the men's is now 200m lower at the women's start. The organisers have added extra height to the walls on the corners too.

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby NoDirectionHome » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:25 am UTC

Pretty terrible tragedy, but am i the only one bothered by the fact that news outlets are showing video/photos of the poor guy's last moments? I mean really, little respect for his family, i'm sure they don't want to see images of his face staring blankly up at the paramedics (if y'know, they read the Huffington Post over in Georgia) but really, we couldn't live without seeing the video of him flying into a pole?

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby psyck0 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:26 am UTC

I am hoping someone sues NBC for repeatedly showing the man die in slow-mo HD. I mean, if a nipple gets a lawsuit and huge fines, this sure should. If I lived in the US I might do it myself.

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Paranoid__Android » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:40 am UTC

NoDirectionHome wrote:Pretty terrible tragedy, but am i the only one bothered by the fact that news outlets are showing video/photos of the poor guy's last moments? I mean really, little respect for his family, i'm sure they don't want to see images of his face staring blankly up at the paramedics (if y'know, they read the Huffington Post over in Georgia) but really, we couldn't live without seeing the video of him flying into a pole?

That was my first thought,

aweful tragedy.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Xeio » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:44 am UTC

psyck0 wrote:I am hoping someone sues NBC for repeatedly showing the man die in slow-mo HD. I mean, if a nipple gets a lawsuit and huge fines, this sure should. If I lived in the US I might do it myself.
Even if there was potential for it, the dude was from Georgia, so I don't see how exactly the family would sue. Unless you mean some random person suing for... what exactly? Most prime-time TV shows are more graphic than that.

Also, you might as well criticize everyone in this thread who clicked the link to watch it, and the OP for posting the link...

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Paranoid__Android » Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:49 am UTC

Xeio wrote:
psyck0 wrote:Most prime-time TV shows are more graphic than that.


What, they show people actually die on a regular basis? don't kids watch these shows?
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Decker » Sun Feb 14, 2010 3:06 am UTC

This is really a terrible thing to happen. However, the cynical part of me was thinking that at least he went fairly suddenly, and pretty much the whole world is going to remember him. Not many people have their last moments viewed by millions and millions of people when it happens.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby mmmcannibalism » Sun Feb 14, 2010 3:43 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:Do you suppose the rest of the Olympic lugers will compete, or boycott the track?


Beyond what was said earlier, I doubt it because of it being the Olympics. While some athletes may boycott the track, when you have been training years for something you only get a far shot at every four its going to take more then an accident to stop you.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby psyck0 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:17 am UTC

Xeio wrote:
psyck0 wrote:I am hoping someone sues NBC for repeatedly showing the man die in slow-mo HD. I mean, if a nipple gets a lawsuit and huge fines, this sure should. If I lived in the US I might do it myself.
Even if there was potential for it, the dude was from Georgia, so I don't see how exactly the family would sue. Unless you mean some random person suing for... what exactly? Most prime-time TV shows are more graphic than that.

Also, you might as well criticize everyone in this thread who clicked the link to watch it, and the OP for posting the link...


People who weren't Janet's family sued for the nipples. You can sue for being horribly offended. It was completely inappropriate and the regulatory body should impose some huge fines, at the very least. I don't understand your worthless culture that a nipple slip is unacceptable but you can show someone die, repeatedly, in slow motion, on daytime TV, with no warning to the viewer.

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Fallen Angel » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:35 am UTC

His death was a massively public one. How some would kill for that. Ironic.
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby Jahoclave » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:54 am UTC

Oh, and lovely, the Canadians are trying to blame the accident on the Luger. Yeah, I guess the difference between being a great luger or not is whether or not you die when you wreck on this shittastically unsafe course.

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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:36 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:Oh, and lovely, the Canadians are trying to blame the accident on the Luger. Yeah, I guess the difference between being a great luger or not is whether or not you die when you wreck on this shittastically unsafe course.


Go look up contributory negigence... the idea that you can have some responsibility for an accident, even if it's mainly someone else's fault.

In this case he comes in too fast for the corner, which could be the course being too steep, or him not slowing down to try and get a better time, or both...

Coming from a background of sports that claim a couple of dozen lives a year in simillar circumstances, I might have a more "You pays your money, You takes your choice" attitude, the guy knew that he was competing in one of the most dangerous sliding events, on one of the fastest courses ever built, If he wasn't prepared to risk his life going for gold, he'd never have started the race.
Great things are done when Men & Mountains meet,
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General_Norris
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Re: Olympic Luger Dies

Postby General_Norris » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:16 pm UTC

I think that an enclosed track is not safer. Consider that if you take a curve without turning you are going to crash into a wall because the tube is going to be small. In fact the "car" will likely be destroyed on hit or will be reflected towards the pilot. Ugh, not nice and, in the end, very similar to what happened.

The only thing you need is more space so as to make sure that if the pilot derails he has enoguh space so as to not hit something. Now, you are going really fast so how much it matters is outside of my knowledge. Perhaps it doesn't matter and you are going to die anyways.


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