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Safety for sliders at heart of $800,000 audit

Whistler Sport Legacies to meet all recommendations at sliding centre



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As for the international federations in charge of bobsleigh, skeleton and luge — FIBT and FIL — 11 recommendations are laid out in the audit for them.

Those include, among other things, providing more detailed track design criteria beyond top speeds and G- force exposure to guide track designers, and that the federations develop formal criteria defining an athlete's competence to compete on a specific track. Kumaritashvili had only tackled the Whistler track a handful of times before his fatal run.

"We've offered our full support to the international sliding federations for the implementation of the remaining audit recommendations," added Bennett.

In a press release Svein Romstad, secretary general for the International Luge Federation (FIL) confirmed their continued commitment to working with the sliding centre: "We welcome the report and take it seriously as athletes' safety is of utmost importance for us," he said.

"The recommendations contained in the Safety Audit reflect the direction that our organization is already heading in. In fact, we have already implemented some of the advice and follow-up on the other recommendations is work in progress."

For example, some of the key findings in the trajectory study found that in the four-man bobsleigh there were 23 scenarios where the maximum predicted G-forces exceeded FIBT's guidelines.

"The modelling indicates that and so what the federations have told us is that they're going to be doing testing throughout this next season to actually compare the modelling to the actual times of four-man bobsleigh in particular, and two man," said Patricia Leslie, communications manager at WSL. "And they're going to do that testing, we were told, throughout all the tracks on the World Cup circuit."

The 350-page safety audit, which provides a technical analysis of the world's fastest track, was done by Calgary's SAIT Polytechnic. It took 18 months with experts from around the world, with 3D modelling of the track at Leeds University in England.

Terry Wright, a former executive vice president for VANOC who remains on contract for final wrap up, stated: "We're pleased to have helped facilitate the Safety Audit recommended by the B.C. Coroner, as well as other track enhancements already in place.

"These measures help ensure the Whistler Sliding Centre remains an outstanding venue for recreational and elite athletes. Our hope is that the Safety Audit, which arose out of a tragic accident, results in an enhanced legacy of safety for all athletes participating in these sports."

In addition to the $800,000 study, VANOC has funded other post-Games projects in Whistler. It is currently paying $1.7 million in track upgrades for a new luge start, which will be operational for the 2013 Luge World Championships in February. It also covered a $350,000 kitchen upgrade at the Whistler Athletes' Centre in the summer.