Luge marks one-year anniversary of Georgian's death

Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:49pm EST
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By Gennady Fyodorov

PARAMONOVO, Russia (Reuters) - The luge community marked the anniversary of Nodar Kumaritashvili's death on Saturday, paying tribute to the Georgian killed on the eve of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

The 21-year-old died just hours before the opening ceremony after losing control of his sled on a practice run. He was thrown off the track and slammed into a metal support post.

"Exactly one year ago we had the worst day in the history of our sport," International Luge Federation (FIL) president Josef Fendt told a crowd in the small town of Paramonovo, about 40-km north of Moscow.

"In the memory of Nodar Kumaritashvili we shall never forget this tragic day and we have come here to pay our respects and remember a young athlete, one of our own."

Kumaritashvili was also remembered in his mountain village of Bakuriani where his family and Georgian sports officials gathered at his grave.

A coroner's report said Kumaritashvili's high speed and relative inexperience on a new Olympic track contributed to the crash.

His father, however, was not satisfied with the investigation and has written to the International Olympic Committee demanding a follow-up.

Fendt said FIL was doing everything possible to make the dangerous sport safer, including the changing of track designs, before adding that accidents could still happen.   Continued...

<p>Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper pauses to pay his respects at small memorial for Georgian athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili in Whistler, British Columbia, March 21, 2010. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>