Excerpted from The St. Petersburg Times (Russia) (10/30/01)

Bobsledder Killed

RIGA, Latvia (AP) - An alternate driver on Latvia's Olympic bobsled team was killed during a practice run when he plowed headfirst into an empty sled that had drifted into his path.

Girts Ostenieks, 33, was on a skeleton sled - a small, brakeless sled on which riders lie down with their heads at the front - traveling at about 58 kilometers per hour when a blade on the errant sled pierced his skull, officials said. He died instantly.

It was the first fatality at the Sigulda Bobsled Track, 45 kilometers northeast of the capital, Riga. The track, built when Latvia was part of the Soviet Union, is the scheduled site of the 2003 World Luge Championship.

Officials said the second vehicle belonged to the Russian women's national bobsled team, which was practicing nearby. It lost control of a four-seat sled, which slid onto the track and overturned seconds before Ostenieks sped into view.