wall street journal stories about the luge track death:

1. the luge organizers gloss over safety considerations to make a super fast track which is financially viable for the future — after the event.

2. they know the track is super fast and USE that fact as a marketing gimmick.

3. they fail to put in adequate safety features. people express concern.

4. the athlete dies. BUT WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED?????

5. they blame the athlete.

6. nobody can be sued for various reasons, all of which have been arranged in advance, including compartmentalizing the liability.


for context see sociopaths at work

Next up the ladder is the evil person of above average intelligence. These people have a similar goal to evil people of average intelligence; the production of human misery. However these people see the opportunity to do something that evil people of normal intelligence don’t see how to do; murder someone and get away with it. They understand that the way to murder someone and get away with it is to not care who they kill, how they kill them, or when they kill them. Such people set up conditions where someone will be ‘accidentally’ killed and wait for the circumstances to occur.

1. speed and commerce skewed luge track’s design

Years before a young luge racer from the Republic of Georgia flew to his death at the Olympics last week, officials made a series of decisions designed to make the icy track a commercial success after the Games but that left it faster, and ultimately more dangerous, than any competitive track before.

…According to 2008 engineering documents and letters reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, officials signed off on the course’s speeds. By last year, some of these officials said such speeds are unsafe and recommended that courses built in the future be slower. Following the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Vancouver organizing committee, Vanoc, and the international federation that governs luge racing said the track was safe. The racer, they say, failed to control his sled.

In the wake of the death, Vanoc and the governing bodies for luge and bobsledding, which use the same track, added a large wooden wall on the outside of the turn where the Georgian flew off the track. They padded the steel posts that bore the brunt of the collision. They also made moves to slow top speeds, including starting all luge athletes from lower points on the course to slow them down by as much as five miles an hour.

A reconstruction of the events leading up to Mr. Kumaritashvili’s death shows that the track was the result of decisions that weren’t entirely related to sport.

Tim Gayda, the vice president of sport for the Vancouver organizing committee, told the Vancouver Sun in October 2002 that the decision would make the track financially viable after the Games. “In order to make this thing financially sustainable, we want it someplace where people will pay top dollar to go whipping down this thing in both summer and winter,” Mr. Gayda told the newspaper.

Bob Storey, the bobsled federation’s president and a former bobsledder, said it would be jumping to conclusions to blame the Mr. Kumaritashvili’s crash on speed. “The Royal Canadian Mounted Police did not attribute it to design flaws and did not attribute it to speed,” he said. “The reason they call it an accident is that nobody can define the cause.”

The course’s dangers became part of its marketing.

“Vivid, violent and rough— the Whistler Sliding Centre is not for the faint of heart,” the Web site of the center, operated by Vanoc, said in promotional material that remained on the site this week. “The track has a rhythm that every slider must try to capture. Sliders must find it early in their run. If they lose it, it will be hard to get back on the beat.”

Soon after the track opened for testing in March 2008, it became apparent that it was faster than expected.

…According to the letter, the federation conditioned its approval on the construction of safety walls and guidelines that require inexperienced riders to start lower down the course.

Lugers themselves were beginning to express concerns.

The error wasn’t in designing a difficult, fast course - the error was in failing to ensure that, at any given point on the course, a crash would NOT result in a head-on collision with a solid piece of metal. That error made the difference between injury and instantaneous death.” - comment at article

As often happens during Olympic controversies, it is unclear who bears ultimate responsibility among numerous committees and federations. The IOC and Vanoc have both said they aren’t responsible for the tracks because they essentially subcontract technical specifications out to the luge and bobsleigh federations.

It’s unclear whether anyone can be held legally liable. All athletes involved in the games must sign a legal liability waiver with the IOC, which says that they participate at their own risk.

Some legal experts say that any potential lawsuit filed against the IOC, the luge federations or the designers by Mr. Kumaritashvili’s family—which has said it doesn’t want to sue—would face significant hurdles. The law in Canada, the U.S. and many other countries provides that people participating in potentially dangerous sports “assume” the risks inherent in them and therefore are often barred from suing, unless lawyers could show organizers’ negligence.

That authorities made changes to the track after the accident might seem to indicate an acknowledgment of fault. But Ryan Rodenberg, a lawyer who teaches sports law at Indiana University, says that for public-policy reasons, such evidence would likely not be admissible in court as proof of such acknowledgment. “You don’t want people shying away from corrections or improvements because they fear they’ll be used against them in court,” said Mr. Rodenberg.

One potential issue may have been the division of labor in laying out the course. Mr. Gurgel said that at other tracks, he has been the general contractor, in charge of building the safety walls and other equipment. This time, he was limited to designing the sheet of concrete that became the track, with the Vancouver organizers contracting out the safety features and the roof, which required the supporting column that Mr. Kumaritashvili hit. Officials from the luge and bobsled federations say the safety walls weren’t the problem.

full story here

2. as for blaming the athlete — that’s so wrong. even tie-eating Mikheil Saakashvili gets it!

BAKURIANI, Georgia—The Georgian luger who died in a horrific training accident hours before the opening of the Vancouver Winter Olympics on Friday told his father he was terrified of the track before doing the run that killed him. “He called me before the Olympics, three days ago, and he said, ‘Dad, I’m scared of one of the turns,’ ” David Kumaritashvili said in an interview at his house in the small mountain town of Bakuriani on Sunday.

…The International Luge Federation has blamed the crash on the luger and not on any “deficiencies in the track,” saying that Mr. Kumaritashvili “did not compensate properly to make the correct entrance” into the curve where he slid off the track at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

Despite those assertions, Olympic officials took unusual measures on Saturday to shorten the course by 190 yards to slow the speeds, and they altered the run to keep lugers on the track should they crash.

Josef Fendt, president of the luge federation, said on Saturday that the track is safe, but that it had turned out to be far faster than designers ever intended it to be….“We did not expect these speeds on this track, but after a while we determined that the track was safe,” Mr. Fendt said. He reiterated comments from last year that luge organizers need to consider a speed limit in the design of future tracks.

…Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili expressed annoyance at the International Luge Federation Saturday for saying Mr. Kumaritashvili died because of human error and said a new luge track would be built in Bakuriani and named in his honor. “I don’t claim to know all the technical details,” Mr. Saakashvili said, “but one thing I know for sure: No sports mistake is supposed to lead to a death.”

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