The 2010 Winter Olympic Games began with tragedy. Nodar Kumaritashvili, a luger from Georgia, died in an accident while practicing.
The track Kumaritashvili was practicing on has the longest drop of all luge courses at 152 meters. He was going 90 mph when he lost control of his sled, flew over a wall, and was thrown into a metal support beam. He was knocked unconscious immediately, given CPR and was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
There were two other accidents on the same luge track before Kumaritashvili’s death. According to Yahoo.com, on Friday, Armin Zoeggeler of Italy lost control was did injured. On Thursday, Romanian luger, Violeta Stramaturaru lost control and crashed. She was air-lifted from the track, but did not suffer any serious injuries.
After the death of Kumaritashvili, Olympic officials took precautions and made the track safer for athletes. The ice was shaved down and the walls were raised to prevent lugers from being thrown from the track.
Officials also shortened the track for male athletes, making them start at the female origin point; a full 600 feet shorter. Many lugers are discouraged by the shortening of the track. According to Bleachreport.com, USA Luge CEO Ron Rossi believes that the shortening of the track was made to accommodate less talented lugers and short handed the best athletes out of competition.
Shortening the track has created a new wave of problems. Only having a few practice runs, the lugers are unfamiliar with the opening stretch of the track.
The death of Kumaritashvili made the opening ceremony to the 2010 Winter Olympics a rather solemn one. The athletes were wearing black ribbons in remembrance of the fallen athlete.
Many people tuned into the Opening Ceremony to see if it would outdo the 2008 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony in Beijing. There were interesting aspects to the ceremony. Canada paid tribute to all of its regions by incorporating the history, cultural aspects, and beauty of each region.
A young acrobat did a breathtaking interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” while seemingly grazing over beautiful Canadian meadows.
There was a mechanical error in lighting the Olympic torch. It was the first torch to be lit indoors in the history of the Olympic Games. Basketball player Steve Nash; hockey star Wayne Gretsky; Women’s Athlete of the Century Senator Nancy Greene Raine; and former Olympic Speed Skater Catriona LeMay Doan, were all supposed to light the torch simultaneously. Four podiums were supposed to rise out of the floor and lead to the torch. Only three of the four podiums rose, so Wayne Gretsky left the stadium and lit the outdoor torch alone. The outdoor torch will remain lit throughout the Olympic Games.
The Opening Ceremony in Vancouver may not have been the best in recent history, but it will surely be remembered.