As the body of fallen Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili makes its way home today, Kumaritashvili’s family spoke to press about the loss of their son and his concerns about track safety ahead of his fatal collision in Whistler.
Ostensibly addressing accusations that that Kumaritashvili was somehow underskilled or unprepared for the challenging track at Whistler, his father said:
“My son was training since he was 14, he ran tracks in France, Austria and Canada, and he never suffered an injury,” he said. “He has passed through all stages of the World Cup and made it to the Olympics, he couldn’t have done that if he were an inexperienced athlete. Anyone can make mistake and break a leg or suffer some other injury. But to die!”
The elder Kumaritashvili also said that his son expressed concerns that the track was unsafe:
“He told me: I will either win or die,” the elder Kumaritashvili said, and then paused. “But that was youthful bravado, he couldn’t be seriously talking about death.”
While Olympic officials say the accident occurred when Kumaritashvili “lost control” of the sled, his father struck back out at that assertion:
“They tested that track on my son,” the elder Kumaritashvili, 46, said bitterly.
Kumaritashvili’s body is expected to be routed through Germany before it arrives Wednesday in Georgia. He will be buried in his hometown of Bukuriani, 110 miles from the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Kumaritashvili has been described as the “pride” of Bukuriani, and the community is said to be devastated in the wake of his tragic death. Nightly vigils are held in Bukuriani, and Kumaritashvili’s mother and sister, reportedly “inconsolable,” have not eaten since news of the athlete’s death broke Friday.