Georgian luger told father: `I’ll either win or die’

In a phone call to his home in Bakuriani, Georgia, shortly before he was thrown from his luge and killed on an Olympic training run, Nodar Kumaritashvili told his father he was afraid of the lightning-quick track in Whistler.

"He told me, `Dad, I really fear that curve,’" David Kumaritashvili, a former luger himself, told the Associated Press at his home in the snow-covered slopes of Georgia’s top ski resort.

Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, died Friday in practice when he lost control of his sled and slammed into a trackside steel girder.

His face lined and shoulders bent in anguish, David Kumaritashvili paused to recall details of one of his last conversations with his son.

"He told me, `I will either win or die,’" he said. "But that was youthful bravado, he couldn’t be seriously talking about death."

There were worries the venue was too technically demanding, and that only the host nation’s sliders would have enough practice time to adapt.

In a joint statement, the luge federation and Vancouver Olympic officials blamed the accident on the athlete, saying Kumaritashvili was late coming out of the next-to-last turn and failed to compensate.

The elder Kumaritashvili angrily rejected that argument.

"My son was training since he was 14, he ran tracks in France, Austria and Canada, and he never suffered an injury," said Kumaritashvili, a former luge champion of the Soviet Union. "Anyone can make mistake and break a leg or suffer some other injury. But to die?"

The international luge federation and Sochi organizers have agreed on a slower track for the 2014 Olympics.

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