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Olympic luger killed during practice run

By Michael Bearak     Feb 12, 2010 in Sports
The opening of the Vancouver Winter Olympics were just a few hours away when a luger from the Republic of Georgia was killed during a practice run.
The Vancouver Winter Olympics were scheduled to start Friday night but hours before the opening ceremonies, Nodar Kumaritashvili a luger from the Republic of Georgia was taking training runs in preparation for the opening of competition.
ESPN is reporting that Kumaritashvili was coming out of the last turn when he lost control of his sled and fell over the side wall and slammed into a metal pole.
Rescue workers were at his side immediately and administered CPR compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, he was then airlifted to the Whistler hospital. It was at the hospital where he was declared dead.
Whistler is considered one of if not the fastest tracks in the world. Questions have been raised whether or not teams were given enough time to train on the track. There is greater concern for bobsledders because of the weight of the sleds.
When American luger Christian Niccum crashed at Whistler during a World Cup event she said, "When I hit that ice going 90 mph it turns into fire. I remember coming around to the finish and I just wanted to rip off my suit, 'I'm on fire. I'm on fire.'"
American Mark Grimmette, Five-time Olympian, feels the speeds on the track are pushing the boundaries of safety. On Thursday he was quoted as saying, "We're probably getting close. This track is fast and you definitely have to be on your game. ... So it's definitely something they are going to have to take into account on future tracks."
After the crash other competitors stood silently at the finishline waiting while Kumaritashvili was worked on by emergency rescuers. Then they waited for word on his condition. Afterwards athletes took to the internet to spread their sympathy using social networks like Tweeter.
The U.S. bobsled pilot, Steven Holcomb posted on Twitter, "My thoughts and prayers are with the Georgian Olympic team."
IOC president Jacques Rogge released a statement saying, "clearly casts a shadow over these Games. The IOC is in deep mourning, [Kumaritashvili] lost his life pursuing his passion. I have no words to say what we feel.''
Kumaritashvili was just 21.
More about Nodar kumaritashvili, Luger, Olympics, Republic georgia luger
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