Friday, February 12, 2010

Canadian luge track -- don't mind the steel pillars mere inches from the course

Everyone at Inside the Hotdog Factory would like to extend their sincerest, heartfelt condolences to the family of Nodar Kumaritashvili. What a tragic start to the Vancouver Games.

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If there is one truism about Canada, it's this: Canada always keeps you guessing.

Take our luge track. It's probably the most expensive, most expertly engineered in the history of the sport. Just don't mind the steel pillars mere inches away from where lugers shoot past at speeds in excess of 120 km/h.

Who in the name of gawd thought this was OK?

There are more stories on the Web than anyone could count listing the ways in which life in Vancouver has been clamped down upon, to ensure that the 2010 Winter Olympics come off without a hitch.

And no one thought to have some kind barrier between the lugers and those steel pillars? No Plexiglas barrier above that small wall was possible? No space-age foam wrapping could have been put around the pillars themselves? This was the best we could do? Christ!

Now, a 21 year old man, an accomplished athlete -- someone's son, someone's teammate, someone's friend -- is dead. This is about the time when Olympic officials declare, "We're not going to play the 'blame game.'"

Certainly, blame will not bring back Nodar Kumaritashvili, but a little common sense, a basic sense of safety might have saved his life.

Nothing can be taken for granted in Canadian life. And certainly not on a Canadian luge course.

Video of the tragedy demonstrates just how fast Kumaritashvili was moving and how patently unsafe the luge course is.

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