New questions over Vancouver death
Concerns were reportedly raised about the safety of the luge track at the Vancouver Olympics nearly a year before a Georgian athlete was killed on the eve of the 2010 Games.
Organisers of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics havedenied they had safety concerns about the luge racing track on which a Georgian athlete died on the eve of last year's Winter Games.
The Vancouver Organizing Committee defended its handling of a letter from the International Luge Federation to the company that designed the track that appeared to express concern the ice surface was much faster than expected.
VANOC chief executive John Furlong said in a March 2009 email he thought the letter was an implied warning an athlete could be "badly hurt" on the new track and he asked VANOC's lawyers to look into the issue.
In the email, which was published in Canadian media, Furlong said the sports federation's letter made him concerned that if an athlete was hurt, "the case could be made we were warned and did nothing."
"Nobody ever told us the track was dangerous. They told us the track was fast," Furlong said.
Furlong said VANOC followed the federation's design directions in constructing the facility near the ski resort of Whistler and was assured by them it met safety requirements.
Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, was killed during a practice run just hours before the start of 2010 Vancouver Games when he lost control of his luge, flew off the track and slammed into a metal support post.
A coroner's investigation said Kumaritashvili's high speed and relative inexperience on the new facility contributed to the accident. Investigators recommended luge officials require independent safety audits of future track designs.
Several safety changes were made to the 2010 facility immediately after the accident, but both VANOC and international luge racing officials said that Kumaritashvili's death could not have been foreseen.
VANOC said the luge federation wrote the 2009 letter because it wanted to avoid having higher-than-expected speeds at the track at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, which was being designed by the same engineering firm.