By Duncan Mackay in Vancouver

February 13 - The designer of the controversial Olympic luge course on which Georgia's Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed yesterday has spoken of his shock at the incident.

Udo Gurgel told Sport-Bild magazine's online edition: "We've already designed six Olympic courses.

"No-one has been thrown from the track before.

"The speed at the finish is under 120kph (75 miles per hour).

"Normally every slide should be under control.

"He must have been shot out like a bullet.

"Now one should think how the course can be altered.

"One could raise the wall at the exit by between 40 to 50 centimetres."

Gurgel made his comments as officials from the International Luge Federation (FIL) were  holding a press conference in Whistler revealing details of new safety measures.

These included lowering start runs for the luge competitions to reduce speeds.

The men will start from the women's start gates.

The women's and doubles events will also use different start locations, which are still to be announced.

The wall at corner 16 where Kumaritashvili died, has also been raised, as first reported on insidethegames last night.

Svein Romstad, the secretary general of the FIL, said: "The bottom line is that the decisions made are to deal with the emotional components of the athletes to alleviate, as best as possible, the traumatic experience of this tragic event."

A clearly emotional Romstad, who had to fight back the tears during the conference, admitted that the FIL had considered abandoning the event.

He said: "All possibilities were discussed so, yes, that was one of the discussions."

Tim Gayda, the vice president of sport for Vancouver 2010, defended the safety of the track.

He said: "For us, we believe in terms of the things we did as an organising committee, we did everything in our power and that we made sure we made that track as safe as we can.

"We've always wanted to assure a safe and fair field of play.

"We worked together [with FIL] on a design.

"The process of getting athletes on that track was a a long one and a safe one to make sure that everyone who went down that track stepped up in each of the starts and were really familiar with that track."

Kumaritashvili (pictured) had made 26 runs on the track, Gayda revealed.

Gayda said: "This is an unprecedented situation and something we've taken very seriously.

"We still want an Olympic competition but we have to be respectful of those athletes that their friend died on that track.

"We want to make sure that they can step on that track with confidence and get down and have an Olympic competition."

Romstad claimed the decision to go ahead had received universal backing from the teams.

He said: "We had the team captains meeting this morning and there was not a single question opposing that decision."

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February 2010:
 Luge competition to go ahead as planned despite death
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February 2010: Georgian killed in luge accident at Winter Olympics in Vancouver