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Luge course investigation after serious crash, injury

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Winter Olympics organisers are investigating the luge track after Sochowicz was seriously injured on Tuesday. AFP

Luge course investigation after serious crash, injury

The International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday Beijing Winter Olympic organisers were investigating the luge track for next year’s Games after a Polish athlete was seriously injured in training.

Mateusz Sochowicz required knee surgery after the incident on the Yanqing track and said he could have been killed.

The 25-year-old struck a barrier at the point where the longer men’s track joins the start of the women’s track during a training session to allow competitors to familiarise themselves with the track.

“Suddenly I saw a barrier in the middle of the track. I came off my luge and curled up into the shape of a downhill skier,” Sochowicz told Polish website Onet.

He hit the barrier, injuring his left knee and suffered a deep cut on his right leg.

“If I hadn’t reacted it could have ended tragically,” the Pole said.

“After the impact I looked at my leg and I could see the bone. I was in shock.”

He said the staff at the track were “incompetent” and did not seem to know the procedure for an emergency.

“The team at the track seemed really incompetent. They didn’t know what they were supposed to do,” said Sochowicz, who finished 27th at the last Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

IOC Vice President Juan Antonio Samaranch Salisachs said the Olympic movement expressed its “sympathy and support” for Sochowicz.

“The track and the circumstances under which this accident happened are being investigated by both the federation and the organising committee very seriously,” Samaranch Salisachs said in a briefing for media about preparations for the Winter Games.

“If there are lessons to be learned, as probably there will, we will implement them and have plenty of time to implement.”

He said the course had got “extraordinarily good marks for its safety and its quality” from other athletes who had used it.

The incident evoked uncomfortable memories of the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, a Georgian luger who was killed during a training run for the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010.

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