Olympic luger was frightened of track before death

The day before his death, Nodar Kumaritashvili called his father to express concern over one of the Whistler track’s turns.

From ESPN.com:

The athlete killed on the luge track Friday told his father a day before he died in a training run that he was “scared of one of the turns,” David Kumaritashvili told The Wall Street Journal.

“I said, ‘Put your legs down on the ice to slow down,’ but he said if he started the course he would finish it,” Kumaritashvili said, according to The Journal.

Kumaritashvili, a Soviet-era luger himself, told the newspaper his son would have been able to compete in two more Winter Games and that Nodar’s Olympic dreams stemmed from childhood.

“He was brave,” Kumaritashvili said.

I can just see Kumaritashvili tensing up before hitting the fateful turn. The Olympics only happen once every four years and are perhaps the largest opportunity to represent one’s country on the international level. I’m sure Kumaritashvili felt it was his duty to compete. Sadly, while undoubtedly riddled with fear, he died.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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Men’s luger dies following training accident

In news that will certainly cast a sobering mood over the opening ceremonies in Vancouver tonight, a 21-year-old men’s luger from the former Soviet republic of Georgia died on Friday after crashing during training for the 2010 Winter Olympic games.

According to ESPN.com, Nomar Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled, went over the track wall and struck an unpadded steel pole near the finish line at Whistler Sliding Center. Rescue workers rushed to his aid within seconds and he was quickly airlifted to a trauma center before losing his life sometime thereafter.

It’s unclear how fast Kumaritashvili was going, but the ESPN.com report states that many sliders have reached over 90 mph on the course. The track (pictured above) is considered the world’s fastest and many Olympians have complained that the course is unsafe. Some also questioned whether or not competitors from smaller nations like Kumaritashvili’s had enough time to prepare for the dangerous track.

The remainder of the men’s training has obviously been canceled for the day.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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