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Report: Death of Georgian luger caused by his own driving mistakes

April 19, 2010 |  9:33 am

The accident leading to the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was caused by his own driving mistakes during a training run at the Vancouver Olympics, according to a report released Monday by the international luge federation known as FIL.

Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled on the final curve at the Whistler Sliding Center hours before the opening ceremony on Feb. 12. He was launched from the ice and struck a steel pole.

"Nodar did commit driving errors starting in curve 15-16, which as an accumulation ended in the impact that resulted in him leaving the track and subsequently hitting a post," the federation said in the report, saying that "blunt force trauma to the base of his skull" caused the driver's death.

FIL said that the wall on the left side of the finishing curve of the Whistler track "was deemed to have been correctly calculated and constructed to handle a crash in this area and to prevent the departure from the track by an athlete [under normal crash situations]."

But the report also stated that "no athlete would have control in dealing with this type of 'catapult' effect."

"This bowing of the sled has not been seen before and was therefore not predictable by technical and safety experts," the report said.

FIL Secretary General Svein Romstad said in a statement on the organization's website: "After an in-depth analysis we concluded that there was no single reason, but a complex series of interrelated events which led to this tragedy."

The report appears to support FIL's preliminary findings within 24 hours of the incident, which cited tactical errors by Kumaritashvili. The track reopened on a shorter and slower course.

The report said that FIL anticipates going back to the original starts for future competitions in Whistler, pending more talks.

-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.