Luge officials heap embarrassment upon tragedy

Matt TarrContributor IFebruary 13, 2010

If you’ve read our posts before, you know we usually look for humor in the world of sports. But we also reserve the right to point to the stupid.  The ignorance that oozed from the 2010 Winter Games following the death of luger Nodar Kumaritashvili of the Republic of Georgia after he wrecked Friday during training is worth pointing out.

During the fatal run, Kumaritashvili drifted over one of the track’s walls near the finish line and slammed into a support beam at nearly 90 mph. The New York Times laid out this scenario of what took place at a press conference Saturday morning:

“While labeling Kumaritashvili’s death as the ‘worst event ever happening in the sport,’ Josef Fendt, the president of the International Luge Federation, called the track safe, despite being much faster than originally expected for the track …
“ ‘It is true it is one of the fastest tracks,’ Fendt said. ‘We never said it was too fast. That doesn’t mean we want tracks in the future that are faster. We don’t want to push our athletes too far to the limit.’ ”

On a stupidity level, Fendt’s statements rate a 9.5, falling short of a 10 only because he was out-dolted Friday. To suggest the track was safe and that “We don’t want to push our athletes too far to the limit” hours after Kumaritashvili’s death smacks of ignorance only a man who is about to be named in a massive lawsuit can utter.

But wait. Remember the reference to Friday’s statements? This is what the Times reported went down the day before:

“In a joint statement late Friday evening, the federation and Olympic organizing committee faulted Kumaritashvili in the crash. Kumaritashvili made 26 training runs down the course, said Svein Romstad, the luge federation’s secretary general.

“ ‘It appears after a routine run, the athlete came late out of Curve 15 and did not compensate properly to make correct entrance into Curve 16,’ the statement said. ‘This resulted in a late entrance into Curve 16 and although the athlete worked to correct the problem he eventually lost control of the sled resulting in the tragic accident. The technical officials of the FIL were able to retrace the path of the athlete and concluded there was no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track.’ ”

Under this logic, NBA players should expect commish David Stern to implement a death penalty for missed free throws during the offseason…yeah, suggesting Kumaritashvili was at fault for his own death is that obtuse.

It’s official, the stupid-o-meter imploded due to excessive use before the first day of events at the Winter Games even came to a conclusion.