Whistler's luge track

Comment: Two articles (one from the NYTimes, other from the WSJ) and the related graphics. Interesting stuff.

NYTimes graphic

NYTimes: Luge Athlete’s Death Casts Pall Over Games


The accident will raise questions not only about the safety of the track

WSJ: Graphic

WSJ: Speed and Commerce Skewed Track's Design


Driven in part by the desire to locate the luge and bobsled track for the 2010 Vancouver Games in a high-traffic tourist area with cold temperatures, planners chose a valley at Whistler resort that was steeper and narrower than sites of previous Olympic tracks, according to press reports and interviews with those involved.

The result was a track whose speeds marked a quantum leap in a sport where even small increases require big adjustments from the athletes. After trials of the track in 2008, the course's German designer says he told the Vancouver Games' organizers and the international luge and bobsledding governing bodies that he was revising the track's projected luge speed upward by 5.5%—to 96 miles an hour—nearly nine miles an hour faster than the standing 2000 world speed record.

According to 2008 engineering documents and letters reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, officials signed off on the course's speeds. By last year, some of these officials said such speeds are unsafe and recommended that courses built in the future be slower.

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