VANOC and Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies Society comment on International Luge
Federation (FIL) report on death of Olympian Nodar Kumaritashvili

VANCOUVER, April 19 /CNW/ - The Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) and Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies Society today commented on a report filed publicly by the international Luge Federation on February 12th, 2010 on the fatal accident of Georgian Olympic athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili at The Whistler Sliding Center (WSC). Both organizations found the report to be highly respectful of Nodar as a talented and qualified athlete whose Olympic dream was cut short tragically. They also considered the report to be thorough, balanced and forthright in addressing the WSC track history, the athlete qualification process, the exact circumstances of the accident and the future of The Whistler Sliding Center track as a venue for skilled high performance athletes and FIL-sanctioned competitions.

The FIL report is available at www.fil-luge.org.

"The FIL has undertaken what is quite possibly the greatest honour to Nodar's memory: a thorough investigative report designed to understand precisely what happened on his final, fatal training run and a report that is the starting point to ensuring that, through the lessons learned, such a tragic incident may never happen again," said John Furlong, VANOC Chief Executive Officer. "Nodar lived his life for the love of his sport and the FIL has made it clear in this report that this accident's circumstances were indeed unique. We are grateful for their affirmation of the safety measures at the WSC that they took to protect all athletes and for their determination to learn from this tragedy."

He continued, "Our hearts are with Nodar's family and all of us at VANOC hope this brings some measure of comfort to them as they adjust to life without him. Sportsmen and sportswomen from around the world who compete and train at The Whistler Sliding Center will always remember him as an athlete who strove to compete at the very highest level and was a worthy Olympian."

Keith Bennett, President of Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies, said, "We commend the FIL on the thorough preparation evident in this report and look forward to the opportunity to host them and their member athletes in future training and competition. Nodar's death -- but also his determination and drive -- are part of the Whistler Sliding Center history and we will always honor his memory, working with all parties to ensure that, while sliding sports are speed-based, safety remains our number one priority in running both a high performance and recreational facility."

BACKGROUND: THE WHISTLER SLIDING CENTER

The Whistler Sliding Center officially opened to the public on November 01, 2008 and the first testing took place in December of that same year. Since that time, it has hosted numerous national and international training sessions and competitions including three World Cup competitions (one in each of bobsleigh, luge and skeleton) and the 2010 Olympic Winter Games sliding competitions. It was homologated (sanctioned) by the FIL in March of 2008. In total, over 30,000 runs have been taken down the track, which quickly earned a reputation as an outstanding track for the world's top bobsleigh, skeleton and luge athletes.

Since the 2010 Olympic Games ended, the WSC venue team as been disassembling the temporary structures constructed for the Games and undertaking track and facility maintenance and other activities to ready the track for hand over on May 31, 2010 to Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies, who will own and operate it permanently, an arrangement established by the Multi Party Agreement with funding assistance from a portion of the Legacy Endowment Fund. The venue will open again for public and high performance use later this year, including an International Training week and FIBT World Cup in November of 2010.

The construction of the $119 million facility was jointly funded by the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada and is the fourth sliding track in North America, joining tracks in Lake Placid, (NY), Calgary, (Alberta) and Salt Lake (Utah) on the North American training and competition circuit.

SOURCE VANCOUVER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THE 2010 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES

For further information: For further information: Media Contact: VANOC Communications, Tel: (604) 403-1611, E-mail: mediarelations@vancouver2010.com

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VANCOUVER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR THE 2010 OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC WINTER GAMES

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