Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

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Georgian Luger Kumaritashvili Remembered at Sochi Games

Kumaritashvili died Feb. 12, 2010, in Whistler, British Columbia, in a horrifying training crash just hours before the start of the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Games

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    In this Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010 file photo Nodar Kumaritashvili of Georgia practices during a men's singles luge training run at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. Four years ago, Olympic luge was forever changed. The horrifying death of Kumaritashvili, an easy-going 21-year-old who was taught to slide by his father and uncle in war-torn Georgia, cast a pall over the Vancouver Games and raised questions about track safety and design.

    The fourth anniversary of Nodar Kumaritashvili's death was remembered Wednesday with a moment of silence from luge's top officials, along with a pledge to build "a lasting memorial" in his native Georgia.

    Kumaritashvili died Feb. 12, 2010, in Whistler, British Columbia, in a horrifying training crash just hours before the start of the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Games. Sliding sports have placed a larger premium on safety ever since, and so far at the Sochi Olympics no major crashes have occurred on the Sanki Sliding Center track.

    "I think the athletes, from what I can gather, are pretty happy with the courses," International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said. "They have all talked pretty positively about the courses. It is always an issue. It always will be in winter sports."

    IOC President Thomas Bach joined International Luge Federation officials for a moment of silence at their executive board meeting, not far from the track where the Sochi sliding events are taking place.

    International Luge Federation officials have remained in regular contact with Kumaritashvili's family since his death. The luger's father, David Kumaritashvili, remains a top Georgian luge federation official, though athletes from that country have been largely absent from all international events since.

    "We continue to mark that as one thing that, clearly, will remain with all of us who were there and obviously with the family," Adams said. "That's an ongoing thing. It doesn't finish today or indeed in four years' time because we will continue to work with the family to come up with a really good lasting tribute to his memory."

    In addition to the private, quiet remembrances of the anniversary, Adams said flowers were being laid at the Whistler track on Wednesday in Kumaritashvili's memory.