Bobsledders fear luge fate

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

WHISTLER, B.C. - The controversial Whistler Sliding Centre track is causing problems in yet another sport with a spectacular crash sending a Swiss bobsledder to hospital Friday.

Fearful of the track that claimed the life of a Georgian luger last Friday, the Swiss have now pulled one of their teams from the bobsled competition that’s scheduled to start Saturday.

The Swiss removed driver Daniel Schmid from the two-man and four-man events after he and brakeman Juerg Egger crashed in their fifth of six training runs on Friday. Egger was airlifted to hospital.

“Bobsledders Daniel Schmid and Juerg Egger already crashed on Wednesday, fortunately without any incident,” the Swiss team said in a statement. “Today they crashed again and for safety reasons, the sports director of the (bobsled) team, in accordance with the Swiss Olympic team, has decided (the pair will not compete).”

The Swiss team doctor said Egger has a cervical spine injury. “He can walk, he has no motor function disruption.”

Earlier in the day, the Swiss team also announced driver Beat Hefti, a gold-medal contender in the two-man event, had withdrawn because of a concussion.

Bobsled drivers from around the world have been critical of the track, which has caused problems in all three sliding disciplines — luge, skeleton and bobsled.

“It’s not just mental, it’s the track,” Austrian pilot Wolfgang Stampfer said. “It’s the curves. They don’t fit together properly.”

On Hefti’s withdrawal, Stampfer said: “It would have been good to race against him. It’s (crap), I would say.”

The bobsled troubles did not cause a delay in the beginning of the women’s skeleton finals being raced on the same track Friday afternoon.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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