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Luge track modified for men and women

February 13, 2010 | 12:24 pm

Lugewall_600

In the wake of the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, organizers moved the starting line for Saturday's men's luge competition down the track to the women's starting position and made other changes to ensure safety of the competitors.

International Luge Federation officials repeated that they believed the track was safe and Olympic organizers said that they were satisfied with the changes.

In addition, it was announced that the women's luge competitors will start from the junior starting spot.

In addition to the lower start, which has the effect of lowering speeds, organizers raised the wall on Turn 16, where Kumaritashvili crashed Friday. He flew over the wall and hit a steel pole. The poles are now more protected behind the raised wall.

“We never said it is too fast,” luge federation President Josef Fendt said.

The lower start did reduce speeds in practice runs, with none of the 36 sliders who took a sixth practice run breaking 90 mph after speeds routinely surpassed 95 mph earlier in the week.

“We're confident it will be a successful competition,” said Mark Adams, spokesman for the International Olympic Committee.

-- Mike James

Photo: Ivan Papukchiev of Bulgaria passes as luge track staff add padding to a pole at the exit of Turn 16, where Nodar Kumaritashvili crashed and died on Friday during a training run. Credit: Elise Amendola / Associated Press
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