xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Let the Games begin, please

When you go to cover the Olympics, you prepare for a lot.

Not death.

Advertisement

Yet Friday morning, there it was at the bottom of the luge track, waiting for Nodar Kumaritashvili, a young man from the Republic of Georgia, full of life and spirit, fulfilling his Olympic dream.

He was a split second from the safety of the finish line, when he lost control of his sled going more than 80 mph and was bucked into the air and slammed into an unpadded steel pole.

Advertisement

Medics said he had no pulse when they tried to revive him. Given the violence of the collision, Kumaritashvili most likely was killed instantly.

He was just 21.

Luge is an unforgiving sport. It requires complete concentration to get from the top to the bottom, one mile away, along an icy, twisting track at speeds approaching 90 mph.

First one down wins. Timing is done to the thousandths of a second.No judges, no costumes or style points and normally no drama, unless it's a duel between the best in the business.

It's the reason I was drawn to luge a decade ago and the reason I was thrilled to be standing trackside, an Olympic credential around my neck, and watching.

I was prepared, thanks to U.S. athletes such as Tony Benshoof, Brian Martin, Mark Grimmette, Ashley Hayden and Erin Hamlin, who spent countless hours answering my questions and patiently teaching me their lingo.

To think that one of them could be killed pursuing their dreams was unthinkable.

Until yesterday morning.

The international luge federation has decided there was nothing wrong with the track--even as they beefed up padding--and competition will go on.

The men will race Saturday and Sunday. The women, Monday and Tuesday. The doubles, Wednesday.

"We came to race," said one official. "We will race, but we won't forget."

Neither will I.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement