Saturday, February 13, 2010

Luge Death at Olympics

By now you have probably all read or heard about the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the 21 year-old luger who died during a practice run yesterday when he came out of a turn late, went off the track, and slammed into a support beam at nearly 90 miles-per-hour.

I know that every sport has inherent risk. Endurance sports push the limits of mortality; teams sports involve sometimes dangerous contact;

But there is no reason to construct a luge track where competitors reach such high speeds. Certainly a slower track would test the competitors' skills more and create more difference between them than a track where the winner is the one who manages to stay on his sled as it hurtles to the bottom. A slower track would force the athletes to more carefully choose their line, to concentrate more on getting speed in the start, to nudge every 100th of a second out of their run.

And 40 mph on ice still looks plenty fast on TV.

There is simply no justification for asking athletes to slide 90 mph on a sheet of ice right next to large non-padded beams in order to do their job. None.


Jeremy said...

I don't see a problem with the speed, but with the fact that non-Canadian athletes weren't allowed to run on it until this week.

If the track wasn't ready before this week, then no one should have been on it. The fact that the Georgians had been in Canada for a *month* without access while the Canucks played away stinks of trying to give a home field advantage.

Corry Cropper said...

apparently on most tracks lugers get up around 85 and can stay on the track... this one was pushing 95.

And I agree, to put a very young luger on a track so soon before the competition... well... not good.