Reuters - Sun, 21 Feb 22:45:00 2010
The Sochi 2014 Games will shun the Olympic motto of "faster, higher, stronger" when it comes to designing the luge track, which will be slower than the Whistler Sliding Centre where a Georgian athlete died.
The February 12-28 Vancouver Olympics were tarnished by the death of 21-year-old luger Nodar Kumaritashvili who flew off the track and died almost instantly on the day the Games were opened.
Several team officials and athletes had said before and after the accident that the world's fastest track was too dangerous.
"We will start construction of the track this year and it will be 10 to 15 kilometres less fast (than Whistler)," the Russian city's Games chief Dmitry Chernyshenko said.
That means top speeds would be around 140kph compared to the blistering 154kph top speed clocked at the Whistler track for the luge competition.
"We will be guided by this by the International Luge Federation. Safety should be the key factor. There should be no compromise," he said.
Sochi organisers will run three dimensional simulations on all potential scenarios to make sure a similar incident is avoided, he said.
"We want to avoid even the minimal possibility of something going wrong," Chernyshenko, a Sochi native, said.
The FIL said the crash, in which Kumaritashvili was catapulted onto the rim of the track before slamming into a steel pillar, was the result of human error.
Prior to the fatal accident, the first for luge since 1975, athletes had been remarking on the speed and technical difficulty of the 1,400 metre track which features corners nicknamed 50-50 and Shiver.
The FIL has since said future tracks would need to be slowed down to protect the safety of athletes.
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