On the opening day of the 2010 Winter Olympic games, a 21 year old luger from Georgia died of injuries he received during a horrific crash in a practice run on the luge in Whistler, B.C.
Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, from Georgia, a small country south of Russia was in his 1st Olympics & came here ranked 44th in the world. He likely was looking forward to this event since he was old enough to know what a luge was. He came to Vancouver, likely thrilled & amazed to be here, like many of the athletes I have met have felt. He maybe even had dreams of being in todays Olympic Ceremony that will take place under now with heavy hearts.
I met several lugers in the past few days as they came into town for their events. All of them were incredibly personable & friendly. All seemed thrilled to be here. I now wonder how each of them feels about this. It is one of their comrades that has passed away & in the case of some of them, like the recently blogged about Shiva Keshavan, they even witnessed it.
Several accidents have already happened on this course, deemed to be the fastest course ever. In fact Kumaritashvili had an accident just the day before as well. But like a true competitor, he went right back out there today. He truly loved doing this. Anyone that can rip down an icy corse on a glorified 1/2 toboggan with skates at around 80-90 MPH must love it, and to do it again the day after having an accident you must really love it.
I wonder if I crossed paths with him at the airport. I have probably seen hundreds of athletes there, but only have been able to accurately ID a few dozen of them. So many I have simply asked "are you an athlete here" & got a "yes" & I wished them good luck. It never crossed my mind, that it could be the last time I see them.
Nodar Kumaritashvili will be missed by many people. His family. His friends. His fans. His team mates. His competition. He will be missed by anyone who had anything to do with these games, even if they never met him or had any interest in the luge before today.