This past weekend, all eyes have been glued to the 2018 Winter Olympics. While the multi-sport event features 15 different sports, a lot of viewers at home tend to focus on the beloved sports like figure skating or on the really odd ones like curling. But we can’t forget some of the more harrowing Olympic sports like luge, which has been called the “Fastest Sport on Ice.” Given that luge competitors zoom down icy tracks at speeds that can reach upwards of 90 mph, you might be wondering about the safety of the sport.
Has a luge race has ever turned fatal?
The most recent fatality in the sport occurred in 2010 when Russian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died almost instantly on impact after he flew off the practice track and into a steel pillar during his training hours before the 2010 Olympics Opening Ceremony. His death was the first to occur at a major luge competition in 35 years. Although the International Luge Federation president, Josef Fendt, had expressed concerns about the speed of the track a year before, the organization ruled out any fault with the track or Kumaritashvili’s sled.
In the eight years since the luger’s death, stricter safety protocols have been put in place, like installing higher sidewalls and padded pillars on the tracks and enforcing speed limits.
It seems like those decisions are for the best, as there haven’t been any deaths recorded in competitions since 2010.
And while track improvements and extra training have certainly helped to welcome more safety into the sport, there is no denying that every time a luger hurdles down the ice, it is one hell of a risk.