The Death of Georgia Luge Competitor Nodar Kumaritashvili, A Preventable Tragedy?

In what can only be described as a tragedy, the Vancouver Olympic Games have gotten off to a saddening start with the reported death of Georgian Luge competitor Nodar Kumaritashvili.
Video showed the athlete lose control while attempting to navigate one of the corners on the track and then fly into a steel beam.  Reports indicate that he died shortly after this.  The video was difficult to watch and has apparently been removed from many websites showing it due to a copywrite claim by the International Olympic Committee.  More to the point the video should have never been circulated out of respect to this athlete and his family.
Viewing the photos it struck me as odd to have exposed steel beams so close to what I assume is a difficult turn on the Luge track.   I won’t profess to be an expert in the safe design of luge courses but it seems that this type of an incident was foreseeable and perhaps preventable.
Luger’s travel at high speed.  Sometimes they lose control.  It seems that having exposed steel beams by the side of a luge track is every bit as dangerous as having exposed trees next to a dangerous turn on a downhill ski course.    Protective measures are taken to minimize collision risks for the latter (such as safety netting and padding).  If it is really necessary to have these exposed beams where they are I hope steps can be taken to minimize the hazard they pose to the other athletes of the world before the games get underway.
Assuming that this was a preventable death, the World’s media will shine a perhaps unwanted spotlight on the woeful British Columbia Family Compensation Act which places severe restrictions on compensation claims where a loved one is lost due to the carelessness of others.

BC Family Compensation Act, Georiga Luge Competitor death, Nodar Kumaritashvili

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ERIK
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Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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