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Luge Coach Believes In Death Penalty


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Now here is a class act....Canada's (German) luge team coach Wolfgang Staudinger has already ruled on the cause of Nodar Kumaritashvili's fatal accident before he is even buried. Nice....

"It was not a track issue. It was a driver error — 100 per cent," the coach told The Canadian Press on Saturday, referring to the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili. "There must have been a huge driving error."

The Canadian coach, who won bronze as a doubles slider for Germany at the 1988 Olympics, also criticized the push to get more "exotic" athletes into the Games.

"It's serious business," Staudinger said of luge. "It's not just like sliding on a kids' hill on a Krazy Karpet."

http://www.cbc.ca/olympics/luge/story/2010/02/13/spo-luge-staudinger.html

So the penalty for "driver error" is death. What a tool!

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Yes, I'm sure the fact that they did an investigation along with the RCMP means that no investigation took place. The track was said to be safe over and over again by body after body including the IOC and the ILF. No one knew this was possible. Apparently, under strange circumstances, it is, and so they fixed the problem.

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Guest American Woman

So the penalty for "driver error" is death. What a tool!

Sometimes the "penalty" for "driver error" is death. That's a fact, whether one "believes in it" or not.

Edited by American Woman
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I took it differently. There has to be a differentiation between the cause of the crash and the cause of death. There is no doubt the crash was caused by driver error but the cause of death was largely due to the height of the banking and the exposed posts in that part of the track. It is reasonable to think he would have survived if he hadn't left the track. You can't do much about the driver but you can the track.

The luge is dangerous as are the other sliding sports and unless you want to turn their sleds into NASCAR or F1 style survival capsules, they always will be. Of the other two fatalities in winter games history, one was also a luger and the other a down hill skier. To a great degree, winter Olympic sports are more threatening to life and limb than those of the summer games. Just look at the required safety equipment. How many summer sports require helmets.

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I took it differently. There has to be a differentiation between the cause of the crash and the cause of death. There is no doubt the crash was caused by driver error but the cause of death was largely due to the height of the banking and the exposed posts in that part of the track. It is reasonable to think he would have survived if he hadn't left the track. You can't do much about the driver but you can the track.

Good point.

I find it interesting that the Luge Federation claims there is nothing wrong with the track, while moving the departure line and adding security features there were "not needed" before. On the day of the fatal crash, the world champinon, from italy,crashed too, but was n't injured. The number one woman skeletonner (sp?), a Canadian is so scared of the track she had at least once refused to run it from the top.

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Sometimes the "penalty" for "driver error" is death. That's a fact, whether one "believes in it" or not.

And sometimes it's not, because competent engineering and design mitigates the risk of such driver errors. That's why millions are spent on public safety improvements to highways each year. Far more than the $100 in plywood needed on this luge course.

The thing I can't figure out is if the IOC or VANOC will be paying the large jury award or settlement! :lol:

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I find it interesting that the Luge Federation claims there is nothing wrong with the track, while moving the departure line and adding security features there were "not needed" before. On the day of the fatal crash, the world champinon, from italy,crashed too, but was n't injured. The number one woman skeletonner (sp?), a Canadian is so scared of the track she had at least once refused to run it from the top.

Somebody got a call from the insurance company.

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Good point.

I find it interesting that the Luge Federation claims there is nothing wrong with the track, while moving the departure line and adding security features there were "not needed" before. On the day of the fatal crash, the world champinon, from italy,crashed too, but was n't injured. The number one woman skeletonner (sp?), a Canadian is so scared of the track she had at least once refused to run it from the top.

Not every one agrees with the changes. Link

Also:

Shortening the track, while in the interest of safety, doesn't sit well with all of those involved in the sport.

Canadian lugers Regan Lauscher and Meaghan Simister complained that they've lost their home-ice advantage, and USA Luge chief Ron Rossi wondered whether the Olympic competitions will still have an elite feel because of those changes. CBC Sports.

Edited by Wilber
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Sometimes the "penalty" for "driver error" is death. That's a fact, whether one "believes in it" or not.
I agree with Jefferiah above - well put, AW.

The best rules are self-regulating. IOW, the rule doesn't need someone to enforce it; the punishment for breaking the rule occurs naturally.

Consider traffic lights. Do people stop at a redlight because a policeman might otherwise fine them or because not stopping would risk an accident?

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Consider traffic lights. Do people stop at a redlight because a policeman might otherwise fine them or because not stopping would risk an accident?

Yes...let's consider "traffic lights". The controller logic is designed to never present opposing green lights, and it fails to all flashing red or off. There is a reason for that. It is called signal safety, born of lawsuits in the past. Present and future luge runs will write new rules in Kumaritashvili's blood.

There is much irony in the tears and handwringing over a mechanical malfunction while lighting the cauldron, but quick dismissal of asshat luge design as simply "driver error". :P

Edited by bush_cheney2004
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There is much irony in the tears and handwringing over a mechanical malfunction while lighting the cauldron, but quick dismissal of asshat luge design as simply "driver error". :P

When I look at the two threads, I see very little inconsistency in the the opinions of individuals.

For my part, I think the collision of geography and technology has made this track an unprecedented experience, the latter effect seen on the beijing track last olympics. But, unlike the luge, people rarely make decisions that can lead to death while running on a rubber track.

That said,

Saturday, the CEO of USA Luge, Ron Rossi, said: “I understand that countries want to win, but please justify to me why you wouldn’t let the Georgians train. I’ve been in the sport since 1977 and I have never dealt with anything like this. Lots of drivers make errors, but they don’t come flying out of the track. They need to be asking questions about lack of training time.”

In fact, it turns out Friday’s fatal run was Kumaritashvili’s 26th time down the track. His first nine, last November, were uneventful. They were all from the novice, junior or women’s start location. In 16 of his next 17 runs, he took on the full men’s run, and Friday’s crash was his fourth — three of them on the same Corner 16 that was the beginning of the end.

http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/2010wintergames/Georgian+president+thanks+Canadians+their+compassion/2563751/story.html

These things are complicated and not well-suited to soundbites. People who have pursued excellence for its own sake understand this.

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For my part, I think the collision of geography and technology has made this track an unprecedented experience, the latter effect seen on the beijing track last olympics. But, unlike the luge, people rarely make decisions that can lead to death while running on a rubber track.

...and for my part, I can clearly recall simpler times and sensible design that kept drivers on the course no matter what error was made, including banked Plexiglass or Lexan panels. Just sayin'.....

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...and for my part, I can clearly recall simpler times and sensible design that kept drivers on the course no matter what error was made, including banked Plexiglass or Lexan panels. Just sayin'.....

Fair enough. We all sometimes long for simpler times. But this has proven to be a risky sport, whether or not one leaves the track.

http://www.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/torino/sliding/2006-02-13-women%27s-luge_x.htm

Once a track has been approved, risk management becomes the responsibility of the athlete.

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...Once a track has been approved, risk management becomes the responsibility of the athlete.

OK....then you would support figure and dance skaters donning headhear to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury, despite the impact on aesthetics and style points?

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OK....then you would support figure and dance skaters donning headhear to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury, despite the impact on aesthetics and style points?

I support an athlete's decision to take whatever safety precaution fits within their sport's regulations, understanding that the decision to do so may mean a loss of speed, agility, strength, precision, or points.

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I support an athlete's decision to take whatever safety precaution fits within their sport's regulations, understanding that the decision to do so may mean a loss of speed, agility, strength, precision, or points.

Of course...I just wanted to put your risk management protocol to the test. If a skater were penalized for wearing safety gear, then we know the real score (pun intended).

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Of course...I just wanted to put your risk management protocol to the test. If a skater were penalized for wearing safety gear, then we know the real score (pun intended).

Given some of the things figure skaters wear, a helmet would be a fashion improvement.

Risk management for most elite athletes means pushing themselves safely beyond their limits while training and just within them during performance.

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Given some of the things figure skaters wear, a helmet would be a fashion improvement.

TBI is no joke, not even for hockey players.

Risk management for most elite athletes means pushing themselves safely beyond their limits while training and just within them during performance.

Maximum performance is not mutually exclusive with safety gear, just our entertainment.

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Some tracks are more challenging than others. And if people are loosing control more often than not, it might be a good idea to slow down a bit. I mean not everyone is goign to break world records and not all tracks are designed to break records. But it is that fine balance between control and chaos. It's a dangerous sport.

The reason those area are open is so that if there is an accident, medics can get to the person quick. So, nets along that area could have saved him. I just hope he went quickly.

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Yes...let's consider "traffic lights". The controller logic is designed to never present opposing green lights, and it fails to all flashing red or off. There is a reason for that. It is called signal safety, born of lawsuits in the past. Present and future luge runs will write new rules in Kumaritashvili's blood.

There is much irony in the tears and handwringing over a mechanical malfunction while lighting the cauldron, but quick dismissal of asshat luge design as simply "driver error". :P

No one is dismissing the death of that young man and I agree that the fuss over the torch malfunction is much ado about very little.

However, once the modifications to the track had been made to keep drivers in the course, the need to go farther is far from unanimous among the drivers. As far as traffic controls are concerned, how many do you know of where, lights or pedestrian overpasses have been installed at intersections or guard rails have been installed on corners because one or several people have been killed in those locations, all because of driver error? I can think of a few. The new Sea to Sky wasn't built just because of the Olympics, it already had the reputation of being the most dangerous highway in the province. Getting the Olympics just freed up a bunch of federal infrastructure money that wouldn't have been there otherwise.

Sled racing is dangerous, crashes happen all the time, people get injured and on rare occasions killed. As for it being safer in the past, during the sixties as luger was killed at the Innsbruck Olympics and a top Italian bobsledder killed at another race in Lake Placid. Are the tracks getting too fast? Maybe but this is the Olympics, the biggest prize of all and it should be the toughest. What is too fast? Where is the line? When you push limits, sometimes you break them and sometimes they break you. It's the nature of the beast. Sometimes technology does exceed human abilities. We see it in auto racing where changes are occasionally made to the cars and tracks to limit their speeds, but the speeds seem to keep increasing in spite of them and we now have F1 cars that can pull up to 7G in cornering and braking putting stresses on the drivers that weren't dreamed of 30 years ago.

Perhaps sled drivers need to take more responsibility for their safety. F1 racing used to kill a driver a year on average until Jackie Stewart got sick of seeing his team mates getting killed and made the F1 drivers association strong enough that it was willing to shut the whole shebang down until changes were made. From a safety point of view, motor racing hasn't been the same since.

People are attracted to these sports because of the speed and the challenge of managing the risk and dealing with their own fear but as an old colleague of mine used to say, "there is a fine line between keen and dumb".

For this tragedy to result in something positive, people need to understand the difference between cause and blame. Knee jerk reactions like shutting the thing down and destroying the dreams of the athletes won't do it. A public hanging of a VANOC or IOC official in the Whistler Village square might make some feel better but that won't do it. Lawyers fighting over who owes who won't do it. Only careful, level headed analysis by qualified people can result in effective solutions. I know that I am not qualified and neither are 99% of others who are frothing at the mouth over this. Perhaps that is why some of the comments might seem a little callous. Those that are involved in and know this sport are looking at it from a completely different perspective from the rest of us.

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Some tracks are more challenging than others. And if people are loosing control more often than not, it might be a good idea to slow down a bit. I mean not everyone is goign to break world records and not all tracks are designed to break records. But it is that fine balance between control and chaos. It's a dangerous sport.

The reason those area are open is so that if there is an accident, medics can get to the person quick. So, nets along that area could have saved him. I just hope he went quickly.

I do agree that their could be space for more protective gear in any sport, but I don't think this is purely a product of entertainment value. Athletes are looking to streamline so that they can reach their potential with the least amount of resistance. Also, like the military there is a strong culture of tradition in sport and, while some of it can be disturbed for the sake of greater safety, it's a balancing act.

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....What is too fast? Where is the line? When you push limits, sometimes you break them and sometimes they break you. It's the nature of the beast. Sometimes technology does exceed human abilities. We see it in auto racing where changes are occasionally made to the cars and tracks to limit their speeds, but the speeds seem to keep increasing in spite of them and we now have F1 cars that can pull up to 7G in cornering and braking putting stresses on the drivers that weren't dreamed of 30 years ago.

I am not concerned so much about the rising speeds but the absence of a commensurate concern about course design for safety. If the expected lawsuit(s) ever goes to trial, there will be a lot of questions about the engineering of the turn, risk analysis, and design steps taken or not taken to prevent injury and/or death. I have yet to read any justification for the very close proximity of the steel hazards and lack of a retention barrier quickly erected in hindsight.

Perhaps sled drivers need to take more responsibility for their safety. F1 racing used to kill a driver a year on average until Jackie Stewart got sick of seeing his team mates getting killed and made the F1 drivers association strong enough that it was willing to shut the whole shebang down until changes were made. From a safety point of view, motor racing hasn't been the same since.

..and neither has NASCAR...which slapped a smaller restrictor plate on all teams when cars started to go airborne. Drivers have to wear the HANS device (mandatory) after Earnhardt's death. F1 made HANS mandatory in 2003.

People are attracted to these sports because of the speed and the challenge of managing the risk and dealing with their own fear but as an old colleague of mine used to say, "there is a fine line between keen and dumb".

That's fine, but the IOC/VANOC are not required to facilitate their death wishes on international television.

For this tragedy to result in something positive, people need to understand the difference between cause and blame. Knee jerk reactions like shutting the thing down and destroying the dreams of the athletes won't do it. A public hanging of a VANOC or IOC official in the Whistler Village square might make some feel better but that won't do it. Lawyers fighting over who owes who won't do it. Only careful, level headed analysis by qualified people can result in effective solutions. I know that I am not qualified and neither are 99% of others who are frothing at the mouth over this...

All true and I guarantee you that there will be a larger peek at what happened here not only by insiders, but more importantly, by outsiders with an objective viewpoint about just how the course was designed given known or likely risks. My expectation as an "unqualified" layperson is that driver/sled oscillations at speed and resulting loss of control should not result in ejection from the course, and failing that, certainly not an abrupt stop by an unyielding barrier.

Perhaps that is why some of the comments might seem a little callous. Those that are involved in and know this sport are looking at it from a completely different perspective from the rest of us.

But it's not just about them....not just a glorified episode of Jackass for gold medals.

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