Saturday, February 13, 2010
The horrific death of Olympic luger Nodar Kumaritashvili happened just hours before the opening ceremony of the Winter Games in Whisler, British Columbia. My sympathies go out to his family, friends and country, I cannot possibly imagine how awful this must be for them. Making it worse is the video footage of the accident that has been splashed all over the internet. Worries over safety issues are now being debated. I read that concerns about the world's fastest course had been raised for months, that the course was too technically difficult and that the lack of significant practice would result in accidents. These concerns were realized yesterday when a 21 year old competitor crashed and died after coming out of Curve 16 on the $100 million venue. Apparently there had been many accidents during training on the course earlier this week, one turn is even called 50-50 because that's the chance you have coming out of it.
I'm all for competitive sports but this tragedy clearly shows what happens when it's taken too far. They are blaming this accident on Kumaritashvili's inexperience, but how is that possible when the only team who could have been adequately trained on the course was the home team? Couldn't they have spent part of the $100 million raising the walls and covering up the steel beams that killed the 21 year old luger?
While this tragedy now clouds the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver I hope the IOC takes this horrible lesson and demands changes in the way things are done in the future. Safety and well being should should be the focus in the building of these venues, more so than speed and difficulty.
I will pray for the safety of all athletes until that happens.