Reuters - Mon, 15 Feb 23:29:00 2010
Whistler's luge track is under fire again after Canada coach Wolfgang Staudinger said the decision to move the women's and doubles starts down to the junior push-off had turned the events into a lottery.
Canadian Alex Gough is tipped to challenge the traditional German stranglehold on the women's singles medals but Staudinger said the reconfigured start could have blown her chances.
"From the original women's start she was fastest in first training and looked a real medal candidate and yesterday she was 24th," he said. "That breaks my heart. After the woman's training yesterday I'm devastated.
"We did all our homework but now it's a lottery. The run doesn't matter, it's all about the first 10 metres now."
The new start is just before the entrance to the sixth corner of the track, meaning athletes who paddle too hard risk bumping into a wall and losing speed while those who do not paddle enough will sacrifice the momentum they need.
Calgary brothers Mike and Chris Moffat, who slide together in the doubles on Wednesday, agreed the alterations had undermined their meticulous preparations.
"We had over 300 runs from the proper start and now it's a totally different track, it's a game-changer," elder brother Chris said.
"You may as well get a lottery ticket, it's a one in 20 shot," his brother added.
Luge organisers reduced the length of the track after last Friday's fatal crash involving Georgia's Nodar Kumaritashvili who died after slamming into a steel pillar after losing control at 140kmh on the final corner.
While some athletes welcomed the decision, others felt it had devalued the competition.
Germany's Natalie Geisenberger, one of the favourites for the gold in the women's competition which starts later on Monday, said the decision to change the start had reduced her event to a kids' race.
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