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Chris Chase

Luger's death is fifth ever at a Winter Olympics

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The death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili is the fifth fatality at a Winter Olympics. Though no athlete has ever died during official competition, four have now died in practice runs before competition.

The first two fatalities came at the Innsbruck Games of 1964 when British luger Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypecki and Austrain skier Ross Milne were killed in separate incidents. Milne hit a tree during a practice run, while Kay-Skyzypecki died in an incident similar to Kumaritashvili's.

According to Olympics historian David Wallechinsky, the other two Winter Olympic fatalities came in 1988 and 1992 and both involved gruesome accidents with snow-grooming machines. An Austrian team doctor was killed in Calgary when he slipped underneath the tracks of one of the enormous machines. Four years later, Nicolas Bochatay of Switzerland was in a training run for the demonstration sport of speed skiing when he flew over a blind jump and crashed into Sno-Cat. His race was scheduled for the next afternoon, the same day as the Closing Ceremony in Albertville. There was some debate as to whether the machine was parked (which Swiss officials contended) or if it was moving and had on its lights and siren (as the IOC stated).

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