Photo from The Canadian Press
The news of Nodar Kumaritashviliv's death struck the world just hours before the official opening ceremonies in Vancouver. Today, the lugers started at the women's starting point, but one athlete, to filled with sorrow, just could not compete.
Just minutes before Nodar Kumaritashvili launched himself down the luge track in Whistler for the training run that would bring a sudden and violent end to his life, the Georgian athlete called his parents.
The 21-year-old said he planned to make them proud.
What a terrible accident to cast a shadow over the otherwise exciting Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Today, the grief was too much for some to bare.
WHISTLER - They were fast friends in the fastest of winter sports. They grew up together in the in the town of Borjomi in the thick of the Georgian mountains. They were classmates and training partners; a couple of 21-year-olds eager to test their skills at their first Olympics.
Luge was their sport, their passion.
And now Nodar Kumaritashviliv is gone and his buddy Levan Gureshidzev has become a man so wracked with sorrow he couldn't bring himself to do what they both loved.
Every competitor in Saturday night's opening runs of the men's singles event wore a strip of black tape on the left side of their helmet. It was a symbolic tribute to Mr. Kumaritashvili, who lost control Friday morning coming out of the left side of curve 16 and was catapulted from his sled into a metal pole.
But Mr. Gureshidze wore no stripe, no helmet, no spandex outfit. He was listed on the start sheet but did not compete as the 38th racer down the same track that claimed his teammate. Instead, he laid a bouquet of flowers at curve 16. How do you slide when your friend is gone and so many grieve his loss? It was a question left to others to explain.
"It was a tough run today, for sure," said Canadian Sam Edney. "For me, personally, I really felt like I was sliding with Nodar today."
"All of us," added Japan's Takahisa Oguchi, "don't want to forget our friend."
Some day, as Mr. Sakashvili predicted, they will build a sliding track in Georgia and name it in honour of their lost luger. But for Mr. Gureshidze, it was all too much, too soon so he left; the flowers at curve 16 the only proof that he was ever here.
Photo from Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
This news is so sad. What upsets me more is that right after the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, CTV aired the footage of his last run and crash which killed him. I found it extremely distasteful, appauling and inconsiderate.
I personally, feel that such footage should NOT be aired on television. I do understand that people want the news, the facts, and the ability to choose to see such footage, however, I didn't get that choice, it was aired and I saw it. The sound, the image, the memory is now etched in my brain and it is quite disturbing.
I feel that such things, if available at all, should be available online for those who choose to see it, not broadcast on the most watched news immediately following the Olympics Opening Ceremonies.
What do you think?