Fourth-Place Medal

Luge track is updated for increased safety, but is it enough?

After the tragic death of Georgia's Nodar Kumaritashvili, debate raged over the safety of the Olympic luge course. Was it too fast? Should the competition have been canceled? Who was at fault?

Eventually, the starting position of the race was changed. Now both men's and women's luge begin at the same place, leading to slower speeds for the men. And other safety measures were installed around the track. Here they are.

The most notable change is the wall that's been built along turn 16 where Kumaritashvili was flung from his sled. This wall will keep sliders from hurtling into the support beams as Kumaritashvili was.

More improvements after the jump.

This is the other side of the wall. It's easy to see how this will help protect the lugers. It's also amazing to see just how much of the course was left exposed. There was a lot of opportunity for something to go wrong.

Support beams have also been wrapped in padding. While it's not a perfect solution – hitting one of these at 90 mph could still be deadly – it's better than exposed steel.

I'm not a professor of luge safety, but doesn't it seem as if these extra measures should have been installed when the track was built? Isn't it common sense to pad steel beams and to try to eliminate the possibility of a slider flying off the course?

It's terrible that a life was lost to learn these lessons.

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