|Luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died on Feb. 12, 2010 in a training crash during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. (REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/Files)
VANCOUVER — The 2010 Winter Olympics’ chief executive has revealed in his memoir that the family of the Georgian luger who died on opening day was to receive a $150,000 insurance settlement.
The British Columbia Coroners Service ruled Nodar Kumaritashvili’s Feb. 12 training crash death an accident. VANOC CEO John Furlong was a pallbearer at the 21-year-old’s Vancouver funeral on Feb. 15, 2010, and he disclosed the sum in his newly published Patriot Hearts: Inside the Olympics That Changed a Country (Douglas and McIntyre).
"The family would be receiving the equivalent of $150,000 insurance money as a result of Nodar's death. But who knew how long it was going to take for that to arrive? It was obvious the family could use money now,” Furlong wrote.
Furlong left early from the March 21 Paralympics closing ceremony in Whistler to make the journey to Kumaritashvili’s hometown funeral in Bakuriani, Georgia. The Vancouver Olympic Committee raised $25,000 by auctioning an Olympic podium. He stuffed the equivalent in euros in his suit jacket and gave it to Kumaritashvili’s father David at the wake.
“He’d have the pain of his loss for the rest of his life, but the money would help make that life easier,” he wrote in his book.
Furlong visited the family’s modest house after the funeral. Above Kumaritashvili’s bed was a photograph of the late luger holding an Olympic torch in Whistler.
Last August, VANOC spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade told QMI Agency that the insurance payment had been made through insurer Chartis.
“Out of respect for the family’s privacy, we have not made the amount or the timing public,” said Smith-Valade, who traveled to Georgia with Furlong.
When his deputy Dave Cobb delivered the news of the catastrophe after 10 a.m. on Feb. 12, Furlong said he sat in his office “unable to move”.
"We had confronted make-believe plane crashes, riots, major injuries, mustard gas — you name it and we had prepared for it. But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine the death of an athlete on opening day,” according to Furlong.
Since the Games, Furlong was appointed chairman of Own the Podium’s advisory board and a director of Whistler Blackcomb. His book was written with Vancouver journalist Gary Mason.