Georgian luger flies off track, hits pole in Olympic training run accident

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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WHISTLER, B.C. - Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili has been seriously injured in an Olympic training run.

He was coming around the final 270-degree turn, where speeds approach 140 km/h, when he flipped off his sled and was hurled into a metal pole. He appeared to hit his head.

Medics administered CPR to the 21-year-old from Borjomi, Georgia, before he was lifted into an ambulance. An air-rescue helicopter arrived some eight minutes after the crash.

There was no immediate word on his condition.

Training was suspended indefinitely. Members of the International Luge Federation were called for a briefing and team captains from each nation were asked to attend a meeting.

At the finish area, not far from the crash, athletes, coaches and officials awaited word on Kumaritashvili.

Ive never seen anything like that, said Shiva Keshavan, a four-time Olympian from India. Im afraid its bad.

Kumaritashvili competed in five World Cup races this season, finishing 44th in the world standings.

The $105-million sliding centre, on the southeast face of Blackcomb Mountain, has been billed as a wild ride and the accident happened at its fastest point.

The 1,450-metre course has 16 turns and drops steeply for 152 metres, the longest drop of any track in the world.

The average grade is about 11 per cent, including two stomach-inverting drops of 20 per cent.

It was the second crash of the day on the course after defending Olympic champion Armin Zoeggeler of Italy lost control on the lower part of the track. He didnt appear to be injured. On Thursday, Romanian womens slider Violeta Stramaturaru crashed and had to be airlifted out.

More than a dozen athletes have crashed during Olympic training, with a Romanian woman briefly knocked unconscious.

Organizations: International Luge Federation

Geographic location: WHISTLER, Borjomi, Georgia India Italy

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