Officials asking how bobsled crashed into worker

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 13, 2014 at 2:49 pm •  Published: February 13, 2014
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Following the crash, workers replaced part of the lighting system bolted to the roof over the section of the track where the incident took place. Other workers cleaned small plastic shards of debris from the ice.

Loudspeakers in the finish area were working during training after the crash, though there has been at least one incident when the public-address system at the facility — an absolutely critical part of the track's safety plan — failed.

It went silent when the U.S. and other international luge teams visited the Sochi track for a training session in November after electricity was lost. That impacted lights, timing devices and the speaker system that allows sliders up top know when sleds at the bottom of the chute have been removed and the track is clear for the next competitor.

In turn, it also tells people in the finish area that a sled is on the way.

"We didn't really know what was going on," USA Luge coach Mark Grimmette said in November, when detailing how training was interrupted.

The Sochi track was designed to be safer following the death of luger Nodar Kumarishtavili at the Whistler Sliding Center in 2010. His fatal wreck came just near the finish line, and in an eerie twist, Thursday's mishap did as well.

There have been no major crashes in practice or competition at the track during the Sochi Olympics.

"To be honest, the ice is phenomenal," U.S. skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender said following the first two heats of the women's competition, several hours before the mishap. "It's better than it was in training and whoever they got working on the ice, kudos, because they are doing Olympic level work on the track. It is fast and it's fun."

Mishaps like the one Thursday are rare, but have happened in the past. In 2005, U.S. skeleton racer Noelle Pikus-Pace was struck by a bobsled in the outrun of a track in Canada, shattering a leg and ultimately causing her to miss the 2006 Turin Olympics.

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AP Sports Writer Stephen Wilson in Sochi contributed to this report.