Should Canada have given foreign athletes more training time?
Sun, February 14, 2010

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

Did Canada's quest for an Olympic home-field advantage go too far? That's the question being asked after one of the most perilous sliding courses in the world turned deadly Friday morning.

Was luger's death Canada's fault?


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The media have certainly shown their true colours on this one. The reporting on this is rife with innuendo and illogical conclusions.

It has made things sound as if there were a deliberate attempt to put people at risk, an incompetent disregard for 'obvious' dangers, and an unusual and damning history of accidents on this track. None of this is true.

If you had an Olympics coming and had to build a luge track..do you go down to HOME HARDWARE and pick a hammer and nails? No.

This track was designed by the best and most experienced luge expertise that exists ..anywhere. The German engineer Udo Gergel designed it and Mr. Gergel has 6 other OLYMPIC level tracks to his credit PRIOR to this one. It wasn't designed by anyone in VANOC or even the ILF and certainly not by any specifications given by Canada's officials. The Olympics just doesnt work that way. You build what they tell you.

The 'ON SWITCH' to this track was not just thrown last month so international athletes would be the 'lemmings /crash test dummies' on this track. It has been in use since December 2007. There have been literally many thousands of runs down this track. Its crash statistics are comparable with any other fast luge track in the world. NO worse or better.

I suggest you look up photos of just about any modern luge track and what do you see? EXPOSED SUPPORT BEAMS. This isnt negligence HERE or anywhere else. The ONLY way to absolutely ensure that a luger does not contact these dangers is to have the sled sliding in a tunnel. In any case, this track is the same as the rest except for slightly faster speed near the bottom and was never put into use until it had been examined, critiqued and approved by an INTERNATIONAL committee of luge experts. It was NOT just VANOC wanting impressive results for itself. There was the same vetting process in place as for ALL Olympics.

Lastly, as has been stated by many here, the process of allowing training runs and the number of training runs given is skewed to the host Canadian athletes ( Just as it has been in every other olympics) because they were the so called 'crash test dummies'. They ran the track through thousands of runs and that is what developed the statistics for the track.

I encourage you to look up this article from 2006 in the New York Times. It will sound all toooo familiar.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/15/sports/olympics/15luge.html?_r=1&n=Top%2fNews%2fSports%2fOlympics%202006%2fLuge
Craigs, 2010-03-01 17:03:41

how would more practice have helped.Nodar died (in practice),it would have just happened sooner
doug, 2010-02-23 19:25:28

Ostie, call est.

Why??? Are we so idiotic we have to give up an advantage we SHOULD have by having these facilities in Canada?

An emphatic NO....if other countries wanted more time to practice....pull out the bank-card and stop your whining.
Colin Debin, 2010-02-23 11:14:15

You have a poll here, that asks what Olympian (Canadian) disappointed us the most.

You have on the list:

Manuel Osborne-Parad

Charles Hamelin

Denny Morrison

Mellisa Hollingsworth.

To my mind, these are all amateur athletes competing.

Why not put some of the Million dollar professionals from the hockey team that cannot perform the way a Professional player should.

You dish the amateurs, and forget that the Professionals are a greater disappointment because of who they are.

Good Heavens, get your priorities right.

~~Kathleen
Kathleen Sauerbrei, 2010-02-21 23:55:26

Yes, training time should have been more equal. Not that the extra training time would have helped prevent this death (see reasons below) but I think it was simply "stacking the deck" in Canada's favour. To me that is not a fair and sportsman like attitude. Sure "Own the Podium" but do it ethically. How is shortchanging the other teams practising time any better the Ben Johnson juicing himself before the race? Just one - steroids are illegal, giving the home team the advantage isn't. Ethically in my books they are both cheap methods of cheating.
arrrghh, 2010-02-20 22:05:50

This post mortem is becoming a joke. This luge event is and always has been dangerous and along with the skeleton should be banned. The risk is the same for all of the competitors and who is to say someone else would not have been hurt if the event had continued on the original track.

What will happen if someone dies in a down hill event or the half pipe event. These athletes live on the edge and that's the truth of it. If the run is too dangerous then don't compete withdraw and none of the competitors did that or got together to protest.

My only comment against the olympic committee is that outer stantions should have been protected but there is no way to know if this would have saved the athletes life and it is probably doubtful it would have.

To conclude while i have the most deepest sympathy for the family it was a very tragic accident no more no less.
John, 2010-02-18 23:24:57

Accidents are a sequence of failures that add up to a tragic event. A proportion of blame might be as follows:

20% Approvers of the international specifications for Luge tracks

10% Designer of the high-speed course (placement of steel posts)

50% Safety officials who approved the track

10% Every Luger who never complained to the safety officials about the speed or steel poles

10% Nadir

Nadir’s death was tragic and while you should be safe on a track he knew he would be going 144 kph when he got onto the track. There are no guarantees in life. Manage your own risk.


Ian, 2010-02-17 16:59:09

Yep sure, another 20 runs really helps a fella that died on run number 2! I'm sure Canada has done nothing different than other host nations in the past or future.
Janney, 2010-02-17 13:50:08

@ Jacques:

People want action in any form just to feel there is no perceived indifference.

Ask yourself just how justified or effective is the expansion of the wall if there isn't another athlete to leave the track in the next 5000 runs ?!?

If you're a builder and after you finish the job, the inspector comes along and says it's approved, do you then say "no, it's not good enough" ?.....like the people who built the road bridges in Quebec that collapsed and killed people during their commute to/from work ?

Shouldn't people be able to trust the governing bodies to watch over their safety driving down our highways ?....where is your political correcetness for that ?

What absolute guarantees do you offer in your line of work ?
Paul, 2010-02-16 14:46:26

I've figured out the perfect way to eliminate controversy in the moguls events: Get rid of the judges and make it purely fastest down the mountain.

I don't believe we should have ANY event where subjective judging decides the winner. No more figure skating, aerials, ice dancing, or any other beauty contest billed as a so called sport.

If the winner can't be determined on the field of battle among the competitors, then it is not truly a competition.

P.S. Why did a new safety barrier get erected AFTER the luger's death if the course was as safe as can be already?


Jacques, 2010-02-15 19:54:53

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