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Nicolas Bochatay (August 27, 1964 – February 22, 1992) was a Swiss speed skier who died during the 1992 Winter Olympics. Bochatay was killed when he collided with a snow grooming vehicle on the morning of the speed skiing finals. He was the nephew of Olympic skier Fernande Bochatay.
Bochatay, a carpenter, was twenty-seven years of age at the time of the accident. He was married and had two children. Fernande Bochatay, Nicolas' aunt, had won the bronze medal in the women's giant slalom during the 1968 Winter Olympics held in Grenoble, France.
The 1991 Swiss Champion, Bochatay was among the best speed skiers. Speed skiing is a dramatic sport, with competitors flying down the slope at 195 kilometres per hour (121 mph). At Les Arcs, during the Albertville Games in 1992, Bochatay placed 13th in the men's race with a speed of 210 km/h (130 mph). Speed skiing was a demonstration sport in these 1992 Games, thus Bochatay's death is not considered as during official competition.
Accident and death
On February 22, 1992, at around 9:30 am, Bochatay was warming up with a teammate, Pierre Yves-Jorand and US Skiers Jeff Hamilton, Jimbo Morgan and Dale Womack when he crashed into a snowcat used to groom snow on a public slope. The group were skiing and catching air on a bump in the slope. The group had made other runs on the trail. Nicholas was airborne before landing immediately in front of the groomer.
The accident was fatal for Bochatay. It was said the internal injuries were the cause of death and his death was immediately after impact.
According to organizers, the machine had flashing lights and a siren while it was sitting behind a small hill. The Swiss team said the machine had been immobile behind the hill and had no sirens or flashing lights. Jean-Albert Corrand, director general of COJO, was the one to say the snow groomer was using a siren and flashing lights and was moving uphill towards the skiers as they were coming down. Witnesses say also that the machine did have a siren and flashing lights. It was also said that Bochatay was wearing slalom skis and not speed-skis when he crashed. The accident occurred on the penultimate day of the 1992 Winter Olympics, on the morning of the speed-skiing final. Bochatay was the third athlete to die at a Winter Olympics, after British luger Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypeski and Australian skier Ross Milne who both died at Innsbruck 1964.
- Associated Press (12 February 2010). "Georgian luger fourth-ever Winter Olympian to die". ESPN.com.
- "En luge, 'quand on perd le contrôle, c'est très dur de le reprendre". Le Monde. 13 February 2010.
- Scher, Jon (2 March 1992). "The Man In Black Hits The Track...a Mountain Of Cash For Sierra...another Ex-champ In Disgrace". Sports Illustrated.
- "JO : un lugeur géorgien est mort après une chute". Le Monde. 13 February 2010.
- Eskenaz, Gerald (23 February 1992). "Albertville; Swiss speed skier killed during a practice run". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
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