The Sliding Center Sanki (Санки) is a bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton track that will be located in Rzhanaya Polyana, Russia, located 60 km (37 mi) northeast of Sochi. Located in the Western Caucasus, this venue will host the bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton events for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
In 2006, it was announced that Russia will construct two new bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton tracks. The first track was located near Moscow while the second one would be located in Krasnaya Polyana. Sochi was chosen to host the 2014 Winter Olympics over Pyongchang, South Korea and Salzburg, Austria on 4 July 2007. By 2009, the location was changed to Rzyhanaya Polyana, located not far from Krasnaya Polyana.
In their Olympic bid package, Sochi's track would cost RUB 135.7 million. Located 1215 m above sea level, the track will have permanent seating of 500, a temporary seating of 500, and a standing room crowd of 10,000 during the 2014 games. Track start heights will be 1365 meters for bobsleigh, skeleton, and men's singles luge while it will be 1325 meters for luge — women's singles and men's doubles. The finish height for the track will be 1215 meters. It will have 19 curves for bobsleigh and skeleton, 20 turns for men's singles luge, and 17 turns for luge — women's singles/men's doubles. Post-Olympic usage will involve international bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton competitions and training for Russian athletes involved in those sports. during the weekend of 4–5 April 2009, a report on the track status was given at the International Luge Federation (FIL) Commissions meeting in St. Leonhard, Austria (near Salzburg) by the artificial track technical commission in the presence of FIL President Josef Fendt though no details were disclosed.
Construction was scheduled to begin in 2007 and run until 2009 with testing events approved by the International Bobsleigh and Tobogganing Federation (FIBT) and the FIL in 2013 and 2014. There have been two issues with the track regarding location.
Seven different locations have been submitted to both the FIBT and FIL, but have all been rejected due to high downhill grades on the track The joint track commission of the FIBT-FIL has expressed concerns over this issue. The head of the Königssee bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton track in Germany stated that "the FIL is not to blame for the problems occurring in connection with the track location."
Caucasian bear location
The Western Caucasus site where the track will be located has been under fire from Greenpeace Russia over its location near a World Heritage Site Following Greenpeace Russia's official examination of the facility near the Sochi National Park, it was determined that about ten other places could be used outside of the park for track construction. Controversy about the track also included the Northern Caucasus Brown Bear's location near the track for which the bear is an endangered species.
Both issues were resolved after FIL President Josef Fendt expressed his support along with an International Olympic Committee (IOC) visit in Sochi on 21 May 2009.
On 12 February 2010 at the Whistler Sliding Centre in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili suffered a fatal crash during a training run. He died from the injuries suffered in this crash. Kumaritashvili was injured when he flew off the track and collided with a steel pole. He was going Template:Convert at the time. His accident came after a series of incidents in the week and reignited concerns about the track's safety. Investigations were conducted the same day, concluding that the accident was not caused by deficiencies in the track. As a preventative measure, the walls at the exit of curve 16 would be raised and a change in the ice profile would be made. A joint statement was issued by the FIL, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) over Kurmaitasvili's death with training suspended for the rest of that day. According to the Coroners Service of British Columbia and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the cause was to Kumaritashvili coming out of turn 15 late and not compensating for turn 16. Because of this fatality, an extra Template:Convert of wall was added after the end of Turn 16 and the ice profile was changed. It also moved the men's singles luge event from its starthouse to the one for both the women's singles and men's doubles event. Kumaritashvili is the first Olympic athlete to die at the Winter Olympics in training since 1992 and the first luger to die in a practice event at the Winter Olympics since Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski of Great Britain was killed at the luge track used for the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck. It was also luge's first fatality since 10 December 1975 when an Italian luger was killed.
Women's singles and men's doubles start was moved to the Junior start house of the track, located after turn 5. Germany's Natalie Geisenberger complained that it was not a women's start but more of a kinder ("child" in German) start. Her teammate Tatjana Hüfner who had the fastest speed on two runs of Template:Convert stated that the new start position "..does not help good starters like myself".American Erin Hamlin stated the track was still demanding even after the distance was lessened from Template:Convert and that you were still hitting Template:Convert.>
During a 14 February 2010 interview with Yahoo! Sports, FIL Secretary-General Svein Romstad stated that the federation considered cancelling the luge competition in the wake of Kumaritashvili's death two days earlier. Romstad stated that "[Kumaritashvili] ... made a mistake" on the crash, but also stated that "...any fatality is unnacceptable". Additionally, Romstad stated that the start houses were moved to their current locations "... mostly for an emotional reason". Because of Kumaritashvili's death, the FIL is working with the organizing committee for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi over making the Sliding Centre in Rzhanaya Polyana slower in speed.
Kumaritashvili's death raised concerns about athlete safety at the Winter Olympics. As of 21 February 2010, there have been 30 crashes in bobsleigh and luge at the Sliding Centre. It has raised debate on tightening qualification standards to weed out unqualified athletes, require a large number of training runs, slow down the sliding tracks, or a combination of all three. Because of what has happened, the organizing committee of the 2014 Winter Olympics have designed the Sliding Centre for the bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton events to be Template:Convert slower than the Whistler Sliding Centre and will be monitored via 3-D computer graphics and simulation. The IOC has improved safety standards over the years, including lowering obstacles for the equestrian three-day event, requiring protective headgear for boxing and ice hockey, and tightening qualification standards to preclude athletes not qualified for the event. FIBT President Robert H. Storey wants to wait to review safety of bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton until after the 2010 Games, stating that track designers need to find a balance between challenges and dangers on the track. Track designer Udo Gurgel of Germany told Sport Bild that perhaps track walls should be raised Template:Convert on future courses though risk-proofing a course may not be possible. According to VANOC, over 30,000 runs were made prior to the games with neither the FIBT nor the FIL issuing public danger warnings about the track. International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge stated that he "...will do everything in my power to that this should not happen again in the future".
- Sochi2014.com profile - accessed 22 February 2010.