Death on the track -

Death on the track

Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili killed during an Olympic training run


A freak accident? Maybe. But at the moment, this does not look good on VANOC:

Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled near the finish Friday, went over the track wall and struck an unpadded steel pole near the finish line at Whistler Sliding Center.

Leave aside how it was possible for the unfortunate Georgian luger to go over the track wall. Why was there an unpadded steel pole anywhere near the finish line?

UPDATE: Here’s a picture of the awful moment just before impact. Correct me if I’m wrong, but does the track design not look like a horrible death waiting to happen?


MORE: From this story, it is clear that people in the sport thought the track was pushing it. It has been described as “an elevator shaft with ice.” That is, even the highly-trained lunatics who do this for kicks were wary of it. On top of which:

“Please, let there be no accidents there because that could kill the sport,” said Andy Schmid, the performance director of British Skeleton, who condemns as irresponsible the Canadian authorities’ decision to limit practice time for overseas competitors to just 40 training runs compared with the 300-plus runs set aside for Canadian athletes.

“People have the argument that it’s just home advantage and that’s normal for an Olympic host country, but it’s different for sports involving high speed. Can you imagine in Formula One nobody being allowed on a track because somebody has home advantage?”

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Death on the track

  1. That kind of incompetence is inexcusable. There is a good chance that this is going to overshadow the whole Games.

  2. they should move this event to Calgary Olympic Park before somebody else dies.

  3. It's considerably faster than the usual according to the local news.
    There has been concern about this for some time.

  4. "The official tells The Associated Press that the International Olympic Committee received confirmation of Nodar Kumaritashvili's death. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the 21-year-old luger's family hadn't been notified yet."

    Why would AP then release the name of the athlete?!?

  5. This is disgusting, the Canadian teams restricted the access of other teams to these venues for practicing so they could have an advantage. I hope they cancel this event.

    • But it happened on a practice run. Wouldn't it stand to reason that more access would lead to more chance of injury?

      • That could be a possibility. It could also be that normal practice is to have many many more practice runs, but with so few the practitioners felt they had to start off at top speed rather than "waste" runs getting comfortable at the beginning.

    • There may well be some validity to this criticism, but I'd also point out as I have below that this track has been in operation for two years worth of World Cup events, so it's not as though they started using the track for the first time this week.

    • Don't be stupid… every host nation limits access to visiting competitors.

    • This happens at all Olympics. Get a grip.

  6. Apparently there have been several crashes, with a Romanian woman airlifted from the site this last week.

    They're doing a 270-degree turn at 140 kms.

    • Turning radius?

  7. From the NYTimes report: According to the speed clock on the broadcast, he was going 143.3 kph — 88 mph — and was propelled over the track wall.

    • The track is notorious for being the fastest anywhere. The record is over 153 kph. I think thye had best postpone the event and have a thorough investigation. On the one hand, it seems crazy how dangerous the track is, but on the other hand, they've been racing on it for international competitions for two years.

  8. Much like any other sport, safety protocols are not usually made mandatory until it is too late; quit acting like they did it on purpose, it was a freak accident.

    PS. The Calgary track is slow and boring.

    • Negligence is the opposite of diligence, Adam. It doesn't mean someone did it "on purpose". It means someone should have foreseen the consequences, which is also an appropriate question to raise given the history of injuries and deaths in bobsleigh, luge and skeleton directly related to equipment and track design. I vaguely recall, years ago, a track ban on skeleton due to a stone bridge crossing the course … against which someone crashed. Also, this track has already proven controversial. As such, Coyne's question in the lede here is apt … "does the track design not look like a horrible death waiting to happen?"

      • How totally shameful that the Toronto Sun would carry crash photos of this event. I think they should respect the athlete and his family’s dignity in this terrible time. I was once hit by a cyclist in downtown Toronto and went flying headfirst into the road. Luckily for me my shoulder broke my fall a little but I was shocked at the extent of the teeth-rattling impact from only a bike accident. These lugers are going at MUCH higher speeds and I cannot fathom how the organizers wouldn’t have anticipated that they could hurtle right off their sled and into one of those steel beams. I don’t think this poor guy stood a chance. So very tragic.

        • With the possible exception of one photo, I'm not sure the Sun necessarily deserves to be singled out for their photo coverage of the crash given that pretty much every major news site (CTV, the G&M and CNN for example) have VIDEO of the crash streaming on their sites.

          • The Toronto Sun included two pretty graphic pictures of the seriously injured athlete after the crash i.e., you can partially see his face while medics are working on him. The other media outlets show the video and stills from afar but that’s nowhere near as intrusive, that’s the point I was making. They’re being singled out for good reason- seems like they sought to do that themselves, tastelessly.

          • I certainly saw at least one of the pics you refer to, and I do agree that publishing it was in poor taste, to say the least.

  9. Before we completely crucify the track designers or Vancouver, remember that all of the sledding sport's governing bodies approved the circuit.

    It is a mess and it is inexcusable, but it seems foolhardy to place blame on one camp right now.

    • I agree…nothing is black and white. It's easy to second guess…things should have been safer yada yada….it is very sad and I'm certain (ys, certain) everyone involved feels awful, but DON"T TRASH THE OYMPICS or CANADIANS, eh?

  10. The track clearly needs to be adjusted, and pronto.

    It's important to point out however that this track has been in use for two years in World Cup events, so it's not as though it just got thrown together at the last minute and hasn't been used in competition before. How there's an unpadded steel ANYTHING anywhere NEAR the track is a mystery that had better be solved pdq though.

    Condolences to this man's family.

    • Not, I should say, that merely putting padding on the pillars would have saved him, going the speed he was.

      • Excuse me Andrew, but if a human body splayed hit those pillars at half the speed head first…I fear the end result maybe as tragic. STEEL PILLARS…the solution? All they had to day was run horizontal panelling along those pillars to keep anybody flying in between the pillars. He would of bounced off and landed back on the track.

        • Exactly! Why is that entire railing not topped with plexiglass panels? When you turn a human a body into a projectile you need to think really hard about what can go wrong. This is horrific.

      • Good point, and also, to play Devil's advocate (this needs to be thoroughly investigated I think, so I hope my comments don't come off as simply those of an apologist for organizers or the sport's federation, which I most certainly am not) it's worth remembering that hindsight is 20/20. In retrospect, those posts do seem ridiculous, but it's at least possible for me to imagine that a designer could deem the likelihood of an athlete being thrown into the air to such a height to be too improbable as to be considered a safety flaw, or possibly even that such a possibility did not even occur to the designer, or to those in the sport's governing body (and VANOC?) who subsequently approved the track for international competition.

        • Look, whomever designed that run? Has been doing it for years. decades. Whomever designed that track understands better than most the effect gravity will have on a luger and the possibilities. The designers could probably estimate the top speeds that can be reached. So 140 K's per hour…the next question? What happens if the luger loses control? A body at 140 ks an hour. If designers and the builders of such tracks don't prepare for such an inevitability? Well, in my books, they are responsible…due diligence. I bet you or I could walk down that track and wouldn't ask…what the hell are those steel pillars doing there and why aren't they blocked off?

        • It doesn't matter what sort of covering you put over the pillars – if you hit something when you're going 140 km/h, you're probably going to be killed. Even if the walls were some sort of resilient material, a person could easily bounce off the wall and smack into the track again. The nearest analogy to this is getting thrown from a moving car. There's a reason that cars are equipped with seatbelts, airbags, and designed with crumple zones.

  11. Not a freak accident – no matter the skill level of the athlete. Its inexcusable, and the event will be severly affected by this even if they pad those beams, create a guard to keep fallen riders from exiting track, whatever. Is this kind of carnage (not even the death) during training runs a common occurrence in Winter Olympics for luge? I doubt it, and the organisers should have been proactive – not crossing their fingers each time an athlete started a run.

  12. "who condemns as irresponsible the Canadian authorities' decision to limit practice time for overseas competitors to just 40 training runs compared with the 300-plus runs set aside for Canadian athletes."

    There goes the Olympics' PR campaign. I wouldn't want to be in charge of doing to Comms for this mess.

  13. It's not an invalid point, but it's not as though they just started doing runs on this track yesterday. It's been used in World Cup events for two years, so it's not just VANOC that has questions to answer, and I dare say that the sport's governing body is as culpable, if not more, if this isn't just a freak accident.

    If this isn't a freak occurrence and the track is as dangerous as it seems, it never should have been approved by the sport's governing body, and they shouldn't have been using it for international competitions all this time.

  14. I'm also concerned about these outdoor skiing and aerials events. With the kind of soggy weather they're having, they've had to cancel training runs. Just hope nothing bad happens.

  15. I seem to recall one of Canada's premier luge/skeleton female athletes being injured somewhere (was it this track?) and in an interview claiming she was unable to get herself mentally prepared to start (once recovered) unless she was positioned a good portion down the track, I presume to limit speed. I could be mistaken.

  16. Geez…

    They need movable fencing (like in downhill skiing), plexi-glass, removing the pillars, anything that he could either bounce off or absorb the impact! This could have been avoided. Ensuring the person cannot leave the track would help, or ensuring that if he does he won't hit a steel pillar or brick wall.

    • Would plexi-glass help at the speeds these folks are going, or would they shatter the plexiglass, and add cuts to an impact injury? I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt to the builders of the track till we know better (obviously they need to investigate the track, and the probably should move the venue). However you spin it, this was an utter tragedy for the athlete, and a bad day for Canada.

      • They could have usd lexan…it's what they use in deep sea fishing boats…not shatter proof, but way better than plexi.

        • or that material that you can see along the wall earlier (which well could be lexan over wood). dude would be busted up but wold be alive i suspect.

      • To address this, you need to go back to your high school physics and remember the rules of momentum. The vast majority of the energy generated by moving at 144 KPH is headed downhill and this is what you need to provide means to dissipate safely. This is why shields to his left or right (ie – not in the direct flow of travel and therefore only accepting the left-right forces created by the wall bouncing him from the sled) are able to more safely take his impact and redirect him down the course – allowing his continued forward skidding to dissipate that energy far more safely than what happened which was all of it being expended head on into a steel beam in a split second.

        Which, to be blunt, is very, very, bad at that velocity regardless of how much padding you put there.

  17. It's Princess Di.

  18. His poor family – I can't imagine…

    • Amen to that. Never mind the effect on the rest of the Games, this guy's family saw him leave as an Olympian carrying his nation's pride, and he'll be returned as a broken mess in a casket.

      Truly awful.

  19. As former "highly-trained lunatic" as Mr. Coyne puts it, you know when you let go from the start handles that there are risks; but you don't think this could be the price you pay. My sympathies to his family and I again apolgize to my own mother for putting her through my particpation in the sport.

  20. and in the presser faced with tough question on the track, Rogge absurdly said the time for concerns over luge track is later, that this is time for mourning. does someone else have to die. wtf?

    • I think he meant that now, right now, is only the time for mourning. They had already cancelled the rest of the training, and had announced an investigation would be held. We will focus on the track tomorrow, today we can only focus on the end of a young man's life. At least that's how I took it.

      • i guess Jenn. but i am not convinced that mourning the loss of this young athletes precludes answering serious questions about safety or at least resolutely affirming not another individual will descend the track before the investigation is completed. If anything i think, as head of the IOC he owes that kind of response to Kumaritashvili and his family as well as Kumaritashvili's peers.

        • Oh, I'm not either. Certainly the serious, wtf are metal poles doing there, how was this track approved by everyone involved, questions need to be answered before anyone else goes down that track. No, I mean really the fixing it needs to be done before anyone else goes down that track. I'm just suggesting that Rogge was suggesting we not lose sight of the person, the individual whose life was cut short, in our rush to lay blame, fix the event, all the other stuff.

          • IOC is not use to answering difficult questions. I doubt they would have given an answer if it was a less tragic moment; it's their ball and they play it like they want to.

  21. I think now is the time for one of Andrew Coyne's safety-restrictions are for the weak, why-should-I-have-to-wear-a-helmet articles.

    And mail it to the family, too.

    • I take your point. Because, when you think about it, riding your bike to the corner store and careening down a hill feet first at 140 km/hr round 270-degree corners ringed by sharp-edged steel girders are exactly alike.

    • Mike what is the point of trying to smear Coyne? There are times when I have major disagreements on substance and approach with Coyne, but what does this post honour the dead athlete, add understanding to the situation or strike a path to improving the problem?

      Coyne can clearly fend for himself, but this kinda thing seems to be increasingly common here and also tiring.

      • I think it's always worthwhile to keep in mind that strict application of ideology often fails when met with practical reality.

    • As usual, folks misunderstand the difference between advocating that people utilize the safety equipment available to them, and advocating that people be forced, by government, to utilize the safety equipment that the government deems necessary.

      There is a difference.

  22. Design is poor! Bottom Line. They should never have had them large exposed structure steel columns in that area or an area. This should have never been design and build that way. Poor engineering, I can think of 10 ways to improve this and that's not thinking to hard.

  23. It's precisely because they aren't alike that the highest possible standards should apply in the case of the luger.

  24. Yes so mark me down as a supporter of helmets for lugers. Though it didn't seem to do him much good, did it?

    • Sadly no, it didn't.

  25. there was suggestion in earlier reports that he had hit his head in the previous corner and was unconscious and thus uncontrolled when he flew off the sled and out of the track.

  26. Tragedy before the Games even get started. Awful stuff; no need for video or photos of such a sad event.

    Never understood luge in the first place; just seems like a very risky dangerous kind of activity, not so much a sport.

    • Obviously it is dangerous, but the athleticism required to control yourself at those kinds of speeds has to be pretty intense. Perhaps they need to design tracks with a maximum possible speed in mind. I mean, just think, if the speeds were too much for a highly trained athlete, imagine how many less experienced people would die if say, that track were made open to people that wanted to train.

      • Jeff Blair wrote an article a week ago warning about the track noting that the Russians have been apparently told that their run for the 2014 Olympics should not exceed 135 KPH. In comparison, the record speed at Whistler from cup events in the past is 153 KPH which is the fastest recorded speed in history.

        That's a pretty steep step backwards going forward if true.

  27. 1) then why didn't you say that in the context of safety concerns instead of drawing some false equivalence about serious issues.

    2) how does And mail it to the family, too. help make that point?

    • Oh »I fully expected people to point out details which they would claim make the situation totally different, and I certainly wasn`t leet down in that dept. But at its heart, the Coyne angle tends to be `why do we have rules which prevent rare but dangerous injury, rather than just letting people ski, or make luge courses, as they see fit`:

      This is why.

      • Mike T, valid point.

      • only if you assume that Coyne doesn't have appreciation for an obvious continuum of risk and likely potential outcomes.

        nonetheless i can totally see why we should send the articles to the kid's family now.

  28. I've been incredibly excited about the games, about Canada's chance to show off the the world and show that we're not all just Mr. Nice guy, we can be tough and competitive and win.

    Now it just seems so meaningless. We're competing for pieces of metal. And we got a guy killed – because we wanted the fastest track in the world, because we wanted "home field advantage."

    We can go back to being the nice polite people now. A competitive streak isn't worth the cost.

    Everyone's talking about how this will cast a pall over the games, or how it will affect the opening ceremonies. How does any of that stuff matter? A person is dead.

    • Dear Katherine,

      the world doesn't stop because accidents happen. Get a grip! Every accident is a sad accasion, not just during Olympics but any time.

      The Olympics are all about competition and if atlethes are prepared to do it, better, faster and more exicting venues will be build. Each individual has a choice to make whether to participate or not. No athlethe is pushed into participating, as far as I know……..

  29. Good to see comments mentioning the poor design of this track. In the photo it really does appear to be a 1970's type facility- wood capped wall leading straight into a vertical section. Huh? In this day and age I cannot imagine an engineering and design firm coming up with this. I hope his family and loved ones are duly compensated if legally possible. I looked quickly at the Altenburg German facility, a mid '80s facility-it is apparent much consideration is given there to smooth entry and exit transitions if an upset occurs and the athlete(s) REMAIN in the track chute!!!. Participants in bobsled luge skeleton have been in leave-the-track accidents years ago! – so this is a known potential, and not difficult to prevent 99.99% of the time. Obviously this lack of containment safety infrastructure is the crux issue here, not speed, and the athletes involved would be much more comfortable psychologically if there was a good design in place here, and the facilities potential for records could then be realized more readily. But when we are nervous we all tighten up. I say this facility leads sliders to be tight due to the lack of a flowing design. Sure some will handle it, but some will be injured due only to poor design

  30. VANOC wants records broken. It is the dirty secret of any Olympic organizers. It wishes to do go down in the history books for breaking records. So it designs a death run for a luge. A number of Lugers have already been injured in practice runs. An American Luger was airlifted out. Veteran coaches and team managers have had serious concerns about this run and its reckless design. Furthermore Andrew, you are absolutely right. Why the hell are steel pillars encroaching the track, or basically create a wall out of the last curve where the speed is the highest and the "sling shot" effect is tremendous. Without padding or protection? 6 billion dollars and this? Now, we will hear the pundits and the CTV cheerleading squad is already pinning the blame on the young man who lost his life…saying he was inexperienced..that he was an "Olympic Tourist"…the spin will now try and downplay this man's death as purely his own fault. But one aspect of this cannot be escaped. It is the first death ever in the Olympics…unprecedented. Of course VANOC will continue to spin their "Don't worry be happy." mantra.

    • Actually, not that this lessen the tragedy at all, but I believe this is actually the fifth death at the Olympics (Summer and Winter combined, and not including 1972) and it's actually the third to occur at the Winter Olympics during training runs (the other two both being in 1964, one in luge, and the other in skiing).

  31. Amen Katherine.

  32. Does the track design not look like a horrible death waiting to happen?

    Yeah, that's pretty much what it looks like, and if this was in the states, the judge would agree.

  33. While the media is fully on the after-the-fact, "it was so obvious all along" acusatorial, moral preeening, band wagon,

    how about as holding the role of purveyors of important information,

    you all could of….kinda spoke up about it…an article or two…when it was oh so obvious.

    Now, back to our regularly scheduled tut tutting from the 20/20 hindsight aided high ground.

    • Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail wrote an article last weekend about athletes concerns with the track – including one telling him that his first opinion of the track when it opened was that someone was going to die there.

  34. BTW,

    I for one am shocked our society hasn't be rendered accident free, in all cirumstances,

    even with respect to dangerous high velocity sports where the participants voluntarily go faster than speeding vehicles.

    Now, let us all put forth our collective yawns towards all the people who died in car accidents in this country, in the time this post has been open.

    I appreciate chicken littling is in vogue these days, but lets get a tad of perspective, shall we?

    • Shut up, Biff. Have you no decency, at long last?

      • why no post here about the grandmother who killed her two sweet beauiful young grandkids. Innocent, sweet, gasping for breath and wondering why their loved one would kill them in thier last precious moments of life?

        The tragedy abounds and I can hardly read that story without it bringing a tear to my eye.

        But, you know, we can't attack the "system" with it. We can't use it to tut, tut, or preen, so…..yawn.

        My commentary is not about the tragic death of the luger, but of the commentariate. That you melodramatically wrap yourself in the protection of the tragedy in order to place me on the moral low ground,

        kind of makes my point.

        We seem to have a number of Rahm Immanuels here, not wanting to let a "good tragedy go to waste."

  35. Being Canadian I have to admit that I'm overly disappointed to hear that the organizers are not allowing an equal number of training runs for all athlete regardless of country. To say that it's normal for the home country to have more practice runs is a not an excuse. As a country who is a leader for equal opportunity for all races, it's sickens me hear that equal opportunity didn't apply when it comes to athletics. Reminds me of when another country opened up the back doors to allow the wind to assist their athletes javelin throws during the summer games many years ago. I'm proud of Canada but the Canadian Olympic Organizers need a refresher course of fairness and equal opportunity for all, and to suppress the urge to deploy unethical means to win at all costs.

  36. Andrew, being thrown from the track at that speed is likely a death waiting to happen no matter what was waiting to absorb your momentum. But yes, those pillars look awful right about now.

  37. I will admit that "own the podium" made me rather excited. I'm not a huge sportsfan, but I love Canada, and I do love to see us win. I wasn't born yet when the '72 series took place, but what an epic battle. I feel that in light of our failings here, perhaps there is something bigger we can make these Olympic Games about. We got too caught up in winning that we appear to have neglected the unifying purpose of the Olympic Games. When we host the Olympics, we are on showcase – have we really been true to who we are. Canadians will probably never "own the podium" in a broad sense. Canadians will never have the biggest army; never dominate the global economy and never have the kind of international recognition other countries have.

    We may not qualify in a world of high stakes power politics, but we have always prided ourselves in having a gold in sportsmanship, tolerance and fairness. Perhaps our hubris can help us remember that fact. Canada is a great nation because of our response to the disaster in Haiti and other crises, because we have learned to live in peace with our neighbours and because of our practice of a level of tolerance unparalleled around the world. Let Canada lose every event in these Olympics – if we work to uphold our most-cherished values we will have won in the only sense that matters.

    • Yep. Better to run the podium with class than own it.

  38. Welcome to Canada
    Think of all the "experts, inspectors and money grubbing IOC officials" that approved this for use. What a colossal waste.
    Typical Canadian mediocrity………..embarrassing.

  39. Saw this on ABC News last night, so it was available to the MSM –

    Why weren't we shown this on CTV etc.? It does not in any way offer disrespect to the victim, but it sure points out that there was a problem with track safety. Guess someone was protecting us from the truth – wouldn't wan't to dampen the national Olympic spirit and limit the effectiveness of the grandest marketing campaign in the world.

  40. I have to say… after reading the comments posted here… everyone seems to be wrapping themselves in the tragedy and forgetting that freak accidents do happen. And, as per the nature of a 'freak accident', they are unavoidable.

    The Whistler Luge course is built above the IOC safety standards. It was built and designed to handle the fast travel of the competitors. The walls are higher than they are required by the safety standards to help contain the athletes.

    Yes, it is a fast track. Yes, it is one of the worlds fastest tracks (the fastest). But it was designed to be fast.

    It is not a new track (Building completed in 2007). It has been used in competitions before.

    Athletes who have used the track are quoted as saying that it is a fast and challenging track. Never before this unfortunate incident has it been called a 'death trap'.

    Hind sight is a great thing. It allows us to point the finger and say "Someone should have known better. Someone should have done something. Someone should have seen this coming. This is nothing but an accident waiting for a place to happen. I knew someone was going to die here. Shame on Canada for… (insert criticism)" along with all of the other quotes and criticisms that everyone seem to want to verbalize.

    Just remember, when you are speaking about what 'should have been done', hind sight is always 20/20… life is imperfect… and, despite our best efforts to make everything safer than safe (Canada met and exceeded all safety standards set out by the IOC)… freak accidents do, unfortunately, happen.

    That is the nature of life in the fast lane.

    • Well, that would explain how it is that everyone approved it.

    • "The Whistler Luge course is built above the IOC safety standards. It was built and designed to handle the fast travel of the competitors. The walls are higher than they are required by the safety standards to help contain the athletes. "

      And the Titanic had more lifeboat spaces than was legally required, yet 1500 people still died.

      I had never seen the track myself until this coverage, but as someone involved with engineering, a cursory look at the design, its operating parameters and the dynamics of moving bodies would seriously suggest a deficient design.

      A design for such a track needs to take into account reasonable human error that might be committed by its intended users. For example, the design might not need to account for a luger extending his arms sideways during a run; for a luger to do so would be suicidal. But the design should have accounted for errors in steering or control . . . the lugers are hurtling at tremendous speeds after all, so split second decisions can have important consequences that the track design should account for (and this particular section was not considered to be its most challenging).

      Maybe the IOC and FIL should re-evaluate their safety standards and design guidelines, and not just to the track itself but anything in proximity to the track that may be in the path of a competitor leaving the track (like rotor burst and tire burst zones on aircraft)

  41. This concern is a bit surprising coming from the guy who has posted articles about just wanting to be left alone and not subject to the nanny state. These are responsible adults, they can always make the decision not to go down the luge run. Risk cannot be totally eliminated from any activity, must less any sport.

    • I totally agree with you!!! They know the risks when they join the sport. They know that they are hurtling their bodies down an ice track wearing little more than a helmet for protection. They know there are excessive speeds involved. Yet they still choose to participate in the sport.

      They come to the games with high hopes. They know the run is fast. They know it is a challenging track.

      They have the right to choose: run the course, participate in the games or don't. No one is forcing them to participate.

      They are making the choice that is right for them… and unfortunately, in this case, there were consequences.

      Not to make light of the situation… or to try to take away from the loss of a young and talented athlete… but, he made the choice.

  42. Canada and the USA kill almost 50,000 people in automobile accidents,resulting in a death rate ,per mile driven ,that is much higher than in most civilized countries, including Germany, with its thousands of miles with no speed limit ! Does anybody really care, other than the families and friends of the casualties ? Apperently not, since there is nothing being done toward that end. But one fluke deadly accident by a poorly skilled athlete seems to have just about everybody screaming for more safety! [ The track has had over 2,000 runs without any really serious accidents ! ] As sorry as I feel for the athlete, he was there on his own volition and knew the risk. We as drivers have no choice; – we HAVE TO go to work, go shopping etc.! Where is the public outcry over the daily slaughter on the road? Or are just over 11 dead on Canada's roads EVERY DAY of the year acceptable? Well, by implication, it looks like that is the case. How selective our sensitivities are !

  43. I am afraid to go to in case they also are exploiting this young man and claiming that they have to show me the full video so that Ì will `understand` the story. Let this horrible video feed the cravings of the tragi-porn addicts over on you-tube, but get it the hell out of our national mediaspace. It shames us. As for the rest of the games, they lost me. Nothing short of a full on-air apology from CTV for exploiting the graphic nature of the video would restore my interest in these games at this point. People matter. It`s a Canadian thing.

  44. I've been involved in several risk-assessements of sports facilities where we look at the activities undertaken and what could happen if things go wrong. I am not professionally trained in this activity and yet the very first thing we look for is "if someone wipes out what can they hit?". I simply cannot believe that nobody could see that portion of the track as a very high risk.

    What I can believe is that the risk was seen and the suits decided against mitigating the risk because it would interfere with camera angles. Money before safety is an age old killer.

  45. I am absolutely appalled at CTV's decision to show the video of the Georgian athlete's tragic death.

    Imagine as my family excitedly sat down for the start of “CTV's pre-Olympic Show”. The very first image greeting my 8-year old son and 3-year old daughter are of this poor man slamming into a post at high speed, laying limp – obviously dead. We are not talking about some grainy image shot from a bad angle. This is a graphic video, depicting the death of a human being, in full view, shown on prime time TO MY CHILDREN!!!

    The decision to broadcast this video, as the very first Olympic ‘moment', has brought our family's Olympic experience to a rapid end. As sad as this decision is, we obviously cannot trust CTV to make valued judgments as to the content of their broadcast, our family is no longer watching the Olympics on CTV.

    Perhaps in the future, CTV will consider your decisions more carefully, but their lack of apology so far tells me that is unlikely.

    Meanwhile, every concerned family should BOYCOTT CTV. Their pocket book is obviously the only way they will understand.

    • They also aired an inappropriate bit before the Opening Ceremonies as a promo for coverage on Much Music with language and situations inappropriate for families with younger children. They replayed the video of the death of the luger after the Opening Ceremonies on their newscast. And then on Saturday night they showed a grisly figure skating accident where one skater sliced another, complete with slo-mo reply of the blood flying. Why such gross, adult coverage for something they keep saying is "for the kids" and will "inspire future Olympians"? Not if they can't watch it for fear of seeing such inappropriate scenes.

  46. I agree with all who feel this could have been prevented with greater safety measures. This may be off topic, but the whole idea that host nations restrict practice times for other competitors just doesn's seem to fit the "supposed" spirit of the Olympic games. To me, it should be a "tradition" that is ended, asap. It is very unfair, especially since the host nation can have their athletes practice on it long before the Olympics begin. This is not meant to point fingers at Canada only, but at ALL host nations.

  47. he doesnt have legs, this is true.. He lost his legs in his youth from a rare disease called Aids.

  48. In China, ( or Georgia for that matter), you are careful with expressed opinions. Express the wrong ones and trouble ensues. It is a troublesome consequenceside of the real freedom we have in the western democracies that one is entitled one's opinion and its public expression whether or not there exists any knowledge to back it up. This results in statements about 'ovious' bad design and 'steel posts without padding' as if padding would have any value at 150 km/hr.
    I think people should have a look at the 'obvious' bad design of the Salt Lake city luge track or most any modern high speed artificial luge.
    Exposed steel abounds. Let us recall that the designer of this track is the best money can buy. There is no better with 6 OLYMPIC tracks designed and implemented to his company's credit. It isn't negligence IN MY OPINION but it is an accident.