Father of Georgian luger says son was worried about track

The father of Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was killed when he lost control of his sled in a training accident, says his son thought the track was too dangerous and said that he would 'either win or die.'

February 16, 2010|Staff And Wire Reports

The father of the Georgian luger killed at the Olympics said Monday that his son worried the track was too dangerous, but insisted on competing because he had come to the Games to try to win.

"He told me: 'I will either win or die,' " David Kumaritashvili said. "But that was youthful bravado; he couldn't be seriously talking about death."

The father, in an interview at his home on the snow-covered slopes of Georgia's top ski resort, said he had spoken to his son, Nodar, shortly before the fatal training run Friday.

"He told me: 'Dad, I really fear that curve,' " the elder Kumaritashvili said. "I'm a former athlete myself, and I told him: 'You just take a slower start.' But he responded: 'Dad, what kind of thing you are teaching me? I have come to the Olympics to try to win.' "

Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, died when he lost control of his sled, flew off the course and slammed into a steel pole at nearly 90 mph. After the crash, the poles were wrapped in padding and the course was altered to make it slower.

"They tested that track on my son," the elder Kumaritashvili, 46, said bitterly.

-- associated press Cross-country skiing

Switzerland and Sweden each picked up gold medals in the next round of cross-country events. Dario Cologna of Switzerland won the men's 15-kilometer freestyle race. Pietro Piller Cottrer of Italy finished second 24.6 seconds behind the winner. Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic got the bronze.

The best any U.S. skier could do was 48th by James Southam. Other U.S. finishers were Garrott Kuzzy (58th), Kris Freeman (59th) and Simi Hamilton (64th).

Charlotte Kalla of Sweden won the women's version of the race, contested over 10 kilometers. Smigun-Vaehi of Estonia, who won two skiing golds in Turin, Italy, in 2006, picked up the silver and Marit Bjoergen of Norway got the bronze.

Once again, the U.S. did not distinguish itself as Caitlin Compton finished 30th followed by Morgan Arritola (34th), Holly Brooks (42nd) and Liz Stephen (50th). The cross-country skiers are off a day before resuming with the sprint on Wednesday.

-- John Cherwa Luge

Germany put itself in position for a luge gold sweep after the first two runs of the four-run women's competition. Starting from the juniors start point after Friday's fatality, Tatjana Huefner emerged as the leader at the halfway point. She was just 0.050 of a second ahead of Nina Reithmayer of Austria. Natalie Geisenberger of Germany was third.

The U.S. hopes went from short to long as Erin Hamlin, the team's best hope, was in 15th place. She was 0.813 of a second behind the leader, a lot of time to make up in this lightning-quick sport. Teammates Julia Clukey was in 16th position and Megan Sweeney in 27th.

-- John Cherwa Hockey

Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf passed tests on his left ankle Sunday night and Monday morning before Canadian team officials were satisfied his high-ankle sprain had healed and kept him on the roster.

"It's excellent," Getzlaf said Monday. "I'm the happiest guy here, that's for sure."

Getzlaf was injured last Monday, but played Sunday at Edmonton and scored two goals.

-- Helene Elliott

Los Angeles Times Articles