Merciful end to luge events?

Sliders' complaints add to controversy

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

WHISTLER, B.C. - Officials here must be anxious to see the merciful end to the luge competition which continues to be plagued by controversy.

In the aftermath of the death of Georgian slider Nodar Kumaritashvili last Friday, women competitors are calling their competition a farce.

Forced to race from the junior start position, the challenge of the competition has been reduced to negotiating a tough opening turn that comes far too early into the race. So much for the tricky, high-speed run that was supposed to challenge the world's best lugers.

"It's not a ladies start, it's a kinderstart," German contender Natalie Giesenberger told reporters earlier this week about the new-look run at the Whistler Sliding Centre. "I'm not happy."

She isn't the only one to feel that way about the competition that concludes with runs three and four on Tuesday afternoon. For Canadians, it certainly has taken away any semblance of a home-track advantage.

"The decision to move us down is wrong," said Canadian Alex Gough, who was considered a fringe medal contender but is in a distant 21st place at the competition's midway point. " You can see, watching the sliders, that it’s not a start that’s meant to be raced from.

,“Honestly, we send 13-year-old girls from this start. The Olympic race should be raced from the women’s start.”

Geisenberger currently sits third behind teammate Tatjana Huefner after Monday night's first two runs.

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