A Polish luge athlete who was seriously injured in a November training crash at the track built for next month’s Olympics plans to head back to that venue and compete in the Beijing Games.
Mateusz Sochowicz was confirmed to be part of Poland’s four-person Olympic luge team, the International Luge Federation said Wednesday. Sochowicz was sidelined for about two months while recovering from a fractured left kneecap and deep lacerations on his right leg, among other injuries.
Sochowicz is in St. Moritz, Switzerland, this week for the final World Cup stop of the season. He likely will compete in the Nation’s Cup race on Friday, which could serve as his way of qualifying for the World Cup men’s race on Saturday.
Sochowicz got back on the ice for the first time last week in Germany. It was “as if I hadn’t driven for two months,” he said.
He, like most of the world’s other Olympic-hopeful luge athletes, went to the Yanqing Sliding Center this past fall for what was intended to be about three weeks of training at the new track — only a handful of non-Chinese sliders had even seen the venue before this season — and the season’s opening World Cup race.
But Sochowicz’s stay ended early. During a training run, he crashed into a gate that should have been open to allow him clear passage down the chute. He saw that the gate was not open, managed to sit up a bit on his sled and tried to leap over the barrier — all of which was basically impossible considering the speed at which he was traveling.
The FIL investigated and found the cause to be “human error,” without releasing specific details. The FIL added that it, “together with the track operator in Yanqing, has introduced additional track safety measures for Beijing 2022 after the Sochowicz accident.”