Tragedy hit the Olympics in Vancouver on Friday, after 21 year old Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed in a practice crash.
Kumaritashvili died after being thrown from his sled at nearly 90 mph and catapulted into an exposed steel beam.
His death shook up many of the competitors, and the entire Olympic family. It caused Olympic officials to consider canceling the Luge event. Instead it was decided that the games would go on, but they’d go on with the course altered to avoid further tragedy.
Once the competition began over the weekend, Germany’s Felix Loch captured gold on Sunday.
Most of the Luger’s thought the course should have stayed the same, but certainly everyone understood why the course was changed, or at least didn’t feel the timing was right to argue the point.
American Tony Benshoof, who finished 8th, said lowering the start put him at a disadvantage and handed two medals to the Germans.
Did Olympic officials over-react? It’s hard to go that far, considering one of their young athletes lost his life. But certainly there’s been tragedy in sports before. Downhill skiers, ski jumpers and the list goes on. Did officials change dimensions of those courses? No!
In my opinion, the course was shortened in the Luge because the tragedy occurred right at the start of the games. Had it taken place a month ago, I don’t think we’re talking about this. Officials changed the course after a terrible accident and tried to make the course safer by reducing the speed. I’m all for making the course safer, but from this point forward, that should be done immediately. Olympic officials need to be proactive. Padded beams, higher walls, netting, whatever is necessary to help prevent a repeat of what happened on Friday.
Nodar Kumaritashvilimay have lacked experience, but his death could have been prevented.