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Olympic luger's death ruled an accident

By the CNN Wire Staff
Kumaritashvili's horror crash cast a shadow over the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Kumaritashvili's horror crash cast a shadow over the start of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
  • Kumaritashvili died during a practice run for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics
  • Report: A luging official said the track ran faster than the designer's calculations
  • A coroner recommends officials for sliding sports conduct reviews

(CNN) -- More than seven months after the death of a luger practicing for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the Coroners Service of British Columbia has ruled Nodar Kumaritashvili's death an accident caused by multiple blunt force injuries.

Kumaritashvili, a 21-year-old from the republic of Georgia, died when his body went airborne and slammed into a metal post at about 90 mph (144 kph )during a training run shortly before the Olympics officially opened.

The coroner's report, written by Tom Pawlowski, said Kumaritashvili's injuries "proved immediately fatal."

There had been concerns from athletes about the speed of the record-setting track at the Whistler Sliding Center, according to a Georgian official.

"There were some questions asked by other athletes even before this tragic accident," Nikolas Rurua, Georgia's deputy minister for culture and sports, said in February. Rurua added that there had been several crashes in the same area.

When the official luge competition started, male and female racers started from lower points on the luge track, which led to slower speeds.

Pawlowski's report acknowledges concerns about the design of the track.

"Following Mr. Kumaritashvili's fatal incident, questions arose regarding athlete safety at the Whistler track and more specifically, the design of the track and the unprecedented high speeds attained at this venue, such as the record speed of 153.98 km/h [about 95.68 mph]."

Video: A former Olympian's view
Further and greater scrutiny of safety issues at the track is advisable
--Coroner Tom Pawlowski

Given the high speeds at the track, the International Luge Federation (FIL) asked the sliding center for more training days prior to the Olympics and required athletes to make numerous practice runs from various, lower parts of the course before graduating to the top of the course.

"A number of crashes were observed (68 crashes in 2,482 runs), but the FIL Technical Delegate also noted in his report that nobody was badly hurt," during a training week in Whistler, the coroner's report states.

Pawlowski's report states that an FIL official sent a letter to the track designer expressing surprise over the speeds and said the designer's calculations of top speeds were incorrect.

Kumaritashvili completed required training runs, the report states. But Pawlowski added, "the relative lack of experience Mr. Kumaritashvili had on this challenging track set a backdrop for the incident and it was a significant disadvantage, as far as safety was concerned, for the athlete entering the high pressure environment of the Olympic Games."

The coroner's report recommends the two international federations over sliding sports -- which include bobsledding and luging -- conduct reviews about their involvement into track design and construction.

Pawlowski said "further and greater scrutiny of safety issues at the track is advisable."

"It may be that risk can never be fully eliminated from the realm of sliding sports," the report added.

Journalist Eka Kadagishvili contributed to this report.