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lilikoi's avatar

Who's at fault for the death of Nodar Khokhobashvili?

Asked by lilikoi (10105points) February 14th, 2010

I think the people that built the luge track should have taken the possibility from being flung from the track at 100 mph into account during design and that steel columns like what he hit should not have been left exposed.

Physicists or engineers, do you think he would have survived if the track wall had been extended further up such that he would have bounced back and forth between the track walls instead of being thrown into the column? Judging by common sense I think this would be possible. Human error may have caused him to come out of the last turn in a less than ideal manner, but he shouldn’t have died for this minute miscalculation.

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17 Answers

onesecondregrets's avatar

I kind of think it’s bullshit that they are saying it wasn’t the track. There were other things that occured before his death (don’t ask me for details, I didn’t pay attention that much when I was listening to the news) on the track. If anything the steel pillars? Should have been padded. Doesn’t sound like the designers thought of “what if’s” or safety when they did design it just that you know, it was the fastest track in the world, kind of like a Titanic complex. And now they’re going to make some adjustments, just because, what, it’s the right thing to do after someone loses their life? Meh.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. It was one of those un-foreseen incidences. The very level of the events and the competition leads quite a few events inherent. What if it was a bob sled the rolled over and snaps a sleder’s neck? What if a snowboarder misses a landing and breaks their back or hit the edge of the half pipe crushing their skull? They know the risk of their particular event. It may have been the fastest run but I am sure they believed the barriers or walls etc was sufficient to keep the people on it. I think it was just a tragic event.

Shae's avatar

This man chose to participate in a high risk activity. I feel sorry for his family but I’m sure this man knew he could possibly die from going over 90 miles an hour with nothing to protect him but a fancy leotard.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Must blame be assigned to all of life’s tragedies for us to deal with them?

The track was dangerous yes but unfortunately they didn’t realize until too late how dangerous. It’s a luge track which are dangerous by its very nature. Every winter Olympian has to assume some risk especially in the sliding events.

Shaun White nearly took his own head off while practicing on the half pipe but I don’t know that blame needs to be placed there either.

LunaChick's avatar

From what I understand, there were complaints about this track, before the accident. Instead of waiting for someone to die, something should have been done to look into those complaints. If nothing else, the steel pillar should have been padded.

@Captain_Fantasy – what happened to Shaun White? I don’t want to see him lose his pretty little red head.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Hi LunaChick.
Shaun White was performing a double McTwist and he tagged his head on the lip of the half pipe on his way down. He got good air too. Looked really bad but he was on the TV later and he seemed ok.

YARNLADY's avatar

I consider it to be an engineering error, but that’s just my opinion.

judochop's avatar

I do not blame anyone, it was an error. The track is the fastest track in the world and people use it all the time. This is the first death and hopefully the last. They will learn from their mistakes and move forward. Prayers to his family and teammates and prayers to the folks who had to see it happen. Searching for blame does not fix a problem.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

In extreme sports where the risk of injury or death is inherent to the event, competitors choose to push themselves to ever riskier challenges in pursuit of token of achievement, tragic outcomes are a reality. I am not qualified to comment on whether the design of the track was inadequate or whether any safety standards were neglected. The fatality while regrettable, is not, by itself evidence of any failure by anyone in particular. If an independent review of the circumstances demonstrates that normal compliance with established standards for this sport was neglected, then liability might be assigned. Otherwise, the death might be attributed to other human causes.

jackm's avatar

There does not always have to be someone at fault.

faye's avatar

The International Olympic Committee passed this course. They are experts. Everyone is sad that he died.

mattbrowne's avatar

It’s a tragedy. What matters is the

converting kinetic energy into heat by deforming something other than the skull.

People who sign on for a sport like this know it involves a great deal of risk.

Trillian's avatar

How typical to want to blame someone for an accident that happened because someone chose to put himself in harms way. The whole concept of “extreme’ sports leaves me cold. I don’t try to stop thrill seekers if they so choose to spend their time in this type of pursuit, nor do I sign on as the ambulance crew to scrape them up off the pavement. It seems like common sense to me that when you go faster than the human body is capable of going on its own that the potential for harm to said body is increased exponentially with every additional factor.
I certainly do not say he deserved it or that it served him right. That would be barbaric and I don’t have my arms crossed in disapproval for things that I don’t choose to do. I mostly don’t even pay attention. Live and let live.
But I must say that I resent the immediate reaction of wanting to blame someone. Hell no. I’m pretty sure that all the athletes are fully aware of the myriad things that can go wrong. That’s part of the “thrill”.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

This is a high risk sport. Maybe raising the wall should have been part of the original design; the walls were probably kept low to make televising easier. The padding on those poles wouldn’t have saved him at the speed he was going. Only keeping his body inside the track would have helped.
Nodar was a competant but relatively inexperienced slider (ranked #44 in the World Championships). He made a critical mistake on turn 13 which he tried unsuccessfully to correct and lost it three turns later. The German who won the event is a year younger than Nodar.
I’m sorry for his family, but they knew the risks also (his father and uncle are former luge competitors). This is not the same situation as the Jamaican bobsled team in 1988, who had no real business being there. Apparantly the track was designed to challenge the elite competitors, which puts the lesser sliders at greater risk, but they all accept the risk when competing at this level.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

I thought it was in particularly poor taste for the IOC to say that the accident was completely the sledder’s fault.

lilikoi's avatar

Yes, I am of the opinion that there are two types of accidents – those that could have been prevented and those that could not.

Looking at the section of track from the video and how he died, I think it may have been prevented.

I agree that when you decide to partake in an extreme sport, you are taking on some risks. I think that flying off your sled at a high speed is an obvious risk in luge. Engineering can manage that risk however.

Leaving steel columns exposed track-side looks negligent to me. I think common sense would tell a design engineer that you want bodies to stay in the track at all times, that it is possible to build a track that does this, and that your chance of surviving a throw from a sled at those speeds on a track like this would be significantly higher as the energy would be dissipated across a long distance of track rather than a single impact with solid steel.

My immediate response to this tragic event was certainly first disbelief, and then sorrow both for the competitor and his family. Having an engineering background however, I look at the chain of events and must ask these questions. If it were me in his position, dying due to human error vs negligence of others is a marked difference. It is likely, IMO, that it will be deemed a combination of both.

filmfann's avatar

The track engineer is mostly to blame, but so is the athelete. He studies the track long before the attempt, and should have understood he might have to slow down at that point.
But that would put a medal in jeapardy.

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