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Monday, February 15, 2010

Really, Olympics? Really?

Posted by on Mon, Feb 15, 2010 at 6:05 AM

Within 24 hours of Nodar Kumaritashvili’s death on the Olympic luge track, two things had happened.

First, the International Olympic Committee started making changes to the track. Lugers had been complaining for months that the track was too fast, and there had been an inordinate number of accidents in training runs. Following Kumaritashvili's death, the IOC started reshaping the ice on the track at Curve 16, raising the retaining wall where the luger flew out of the track, padding exposed metal beams, and moving the starting point of the races lower on the run.

But this isn’t because the track wasn’t safe. This isn’t because the track killed a man.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

According to the IOC, Kumaritashvili’s death was his own damn fault. Before the sun had set on his death-day, a statement was released explaining that the luger “did not compensate properly” for his final turn, and concluded that “there was no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track.”

Attorneys will tell you that when in a car accident, even one that's obviously your own fault, you should never get out of the car and say “I'm sorry.” Never apologize. Never admit liability. Doctors are taught the same thing in hospitals—that any apology or expression of regret might be seen as an “admission against interest” and open the hospital up to legal liability. (This is mostly bullshit, btw—numerous studies have shown that patients are far less likely to sue when provided with a full explanation and apology.)

IOC, you're a dick. It may have been Kumaritashvili’s fault. It may have been an unsafe track. I’m not saying you have to leap onto the track the moment after the world’s 44th best luger died and shout “Hey, that was my fault!”

But don’t jump on to the track immediately after the accident and shout, “Whoa, that wasn’t my fault!”


Comments (32) RSS

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MR. Language Person 1
You also shouldn't replay video of the man's death. BOOO.
Posted by MR. Language Person on February 15, 2010 at 6:23 AM · Report this
After watching the video here it's impossible see who was at fault. Some argue that because he was ranked 44th that should have been some indicator that he wasn't prepared for such a track -- then why was he at the Olympics to begin with? I think more should have been done to ensure the safety of the athletes in such a dangerous sport.
Posted by clairehanan on February 15, 2010 at 7:17 AM · Report this
if the track was safe why did they change it?
Posted by the Olympics are Evil on February 15, 2010 at 7:17 AM · Report this
Christin 4
Geez, did you have to embed that video? I've been carefully avoiding images and videos of Kumaritashvili’s death, and the video-still is gory and upsetting all on its own. Tactless and thoughtless choice, dude.
Posted by Christin on February 15, 2010 at 7:18 AM · Report this
And then make everyone start at lower levels on the track as well? If there is no problem then what's the problem?

Also, it's unfortunate that the sliders weren't more vocal about their concerns. In this day and age individuals have to organize and get up in organization's faces about problems that they are seeing. Things are so big and unresponsive to reality that people have to stop themselves and make superconscious decisions knowing that their first complaints will most likely be ignored. It's evolution. We must always organize. The consumer is not king.
Posted by fightdapawaa on February 15, 2010 at 7:25 AM · Report this
eric (the other one) 6
The Olympics has been aggravating on several counts. By now everyone knows Nodar Kumar died--it's enough already, luge isn't even a real sport--and if they show that bio montage of Apolo Ohno one more time I'll vomit. By all means profile the guy if one of his competitions is on, but on non-speed-skate days? They showed it twice yesterday for no other reason than to stoke is celebrity. TELL OTHER STORIES.

Couldn't we issue each country a bowling ball with their flag painted on it, strap that to a sled, and send it down the luge run? The effect would be essentially the same and then we wouldn't have to endure all the solemn faces and Bob Costas gravitas every time one wiped out.
Posted by eric (the other one) on February 15, 2010 at 7:27 AM · Report this
That was freakishly preventable.
Posted by omfg on February 15, 2010 at 7:28 AM · Report this
There are plenty of elements of this story that are very much up for debate, but there was absolutely no excuse for those beams being exposed.
Posted by Openly Floridian on February 15, 2010 at 7:37 AM · Report this
onion 9
yeah Richter I'm so sick of people posting images of this man's moment of death. fuck you.
Posted by onion on February 15, 2010 at 7:50 AM · Report this
mr. herriman 10
agreed about the image posted here, but THANK YOU for writing this! i was so angry and sick after reading their CYA statement yesterday, all that about him failing to properly control his sled blah blah blah.
Posted by mr. herriman on February 15, 2010 at 8:25 AM · Report this
When I was in high school I managed to break my shoulder by dropping some theatre equipment on myself. It was totally my fault. When my mother walked in, saw me bleeding and crying on the stage, the director rushed up to her and tried to tell her right there how it was all my fault. Not what she needed to hear at that moment. My director came away from that interaction the worse for wear. This situation reminds me of that.
Posted by sahara29 on February 15, 2010 at 8:51 AM · Report this
TVDinner 12
I have studiously avoided the images of this man's death. For all its weaknesses, I thought Slog was a safe place where I could avoid these invasive images. Thanks a lot for that video still that will now forever be burned into my brain, you shithead.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on February 15, 2010 at 9:06 AM · Report this
Fnarf 13
Ironically during yesterday's luge coverage all they could talk about was how the direct sunshine was softening the ice and how they needed to crank the refrigeration up to make the track faster.
Posted by Fnarf on February 15, 2010 at 9:30 AM · Report this
Apparently none of you delicate flowers has ever seen a Newsweek, particularly any recent edition with horrifying pictures of death and destruction from Haiti... Bottom line is, people die- If you're too sensitive for that, I suggest you go spend your days on
Posted by mojo mojito on February 15, 2010 at 9:38 AM · Report this
Mahtli69 15
Luge is a dangerous sport. End of story.
Posted by Mahtli69 on February 15, 2010 at 9:51 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 16
It's curious that nobody is mentioning the fact that this guy would probably still be alive if the Canadians hadn't hogged all the training time before the start of the Olympics.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on February 15, 2010 at 10:10 AM · Report this
sven forkbeard 17
The kid was going down a track known to be the fastest and most dangerous at 150km/h. Not saying he deserved it or was too unskilled just that luge is a risky sport and probability states that someone will die while doing it.

Second, Matthew Richter obviously didn't read the article very well, the IOC had nothing to do with that statement and it was the international luge federation that said it was the luger's fault. VANOC published the statement and helped implement the changes that the luge federation recommended but it was the luge federation that made the claim. Get your fucking facts straight before you start spouting off.
Posted by sven forkbeard on February 15, 2010 at 10:18 AM · Report this
What else is new? The IOC has been thumbing its nose at the world for years, with no regard for its actions and failings. This is just the kind of bullshit I would expect from that group of pompous lice.
Posted by shivvvers on February 15, 2010 at 10:32 AM · Report this
@16, exactly. The "Taking the Podium" Canadian innovation of limiting training runs by all but Canucks is a very important part of this story.
Posted by gloomy gus on February 15, 2010 at 10:33 AM · Report this
fourfingersdown 20
Sometimes when people slide down ice tracks at speeds up to 157km/h they fall and get hurt, or even die. Did they show the (Swiss?) guy that fell off his sleigh and then climb back on to finish Saturday night on the tv coverage, because that was awesome.
Posted by fourfingersdown on February 15, 2010 at 10:47 AM · Report this
Doctor Memory 21
Arrogance, blatant criminality and complete lack of accountability have been the organizational mainstays of the IOC since its founding. Why on earth would you expect anything different?

(Seriously, google "IOC bribery" or "IOC accountability" to get an idea of the sort of people you're dealing with here.)
Posted by Doctor Memory on February 15, 2010 at 11:58 AM · Report this
Oh-Shin 22
@16 Except that every other host country has done that as well? It's just that some are worse than others at covering it up.

I'm thinking Vancouver's getting more flack for it because everyone was surprised the Canadian organisers could be as shitty and underhanded like everyone else when they SHOULD be the stereotypical epitomes of politeness and grace.
Posted by Oh-Shin on February 15, 2010 at 1:26 PM · Report this
Oh-Shin 23
@16 Except that every other host country has done the exact same thing? Some are better than others at covering it up.

Vancouver's organisers are getting more flack for it, methinks, because everyone simply didn't expect the Canadians to be just as underhanded and manipulative as the other countries (besides the poor man dying as a result). We're supposed to be the epitomes of politesse and generousity, after all. Which is a shame, frankly, as that's a stereotype I rather like.
Posted by Oh-Shin on February 15, 2010 at 1:29 PM · Report this
I hate the olympic's to begin with its all a big money maker for one. Second reason i lose business because of it. And third i plain just dont give a fuck im a proud canadian and love canada reguardless of how many medals we win. the whole damm thing has gotten out of hand did anyone see the news on saturday night this world is fucked the people in downtown vancouver smashing windows and starting fights maybe im not so proud to be canadian after all that was unacceptable behavior. The main thing here and a lot of you are smart to bring this up Yes Nodar made a mistake on that last turn but for the gutless cowardly IOC to say it was human error for one it was human error the error on whoever designed that track and failed to enclose the last part of the track DUH. Yah Nodar would have still fallen off but he would not have died big suprise that the IOC cant accept for responsibility for something that is 100 percent their fault there can be no arguements on that. For those of you with strong stomachs watch the video its clear as day to see the left side of the track should have been enclosed and secure keeping the athlete in the track. If the IOC doesent think it is their fault why did they make changes to the track and secure that part why because actions speak louder then words the changes they made are an obvious admission of GUILT. Nodar was not inexperienced he was ranked 44th and was at the olympics inexperienced people dont make it to the olympics. Anyway there is more going on in the world than the stupid olympics
Posted by rocky b on February 15, 2010 at 3:15 PM · Report this
1) Bad choice showing the video. Really bad. How many people must comment to get this taken down?
2) Olympics is dumb, with dozens of weirder, more dangerous, more arbitrary "sports" being added each year.
3) Luge is dangerous. A high risk, high reward game that no one is forced to do.
4) About 60 people died the same day in King County. Some in their 20s.
Posted by RealityBites on February 16, 2010 at 2:29 AM · Report this
reverend dr dj riz 26
i haven't seen it because i haven't looked. it wasn't hard for me not to see it here..and i still haven't. a friend told me about this story two days ago and i've managed not to see image one of it. why is this so hard for people who don't want to see it?
bottom line..if you don't want to see it , don't look.. it ain't hard.
Posted by reverend dr dj riz on February 16, 2010 at 2:53 AM · Report this
bbilly 27
amen riz. i wasn't interested in seeing it so i didn't click. easy enough.
Posted by bbilly on February 16, 2010 at 8:47 AM · Report this
One question has been nagging at me since this accident occurred.
It seems to me that Kumaritashvili wasn't killed because he "lost control" or crashed on the luge track. It seeems to me that he was killed by colliding with a steel post.
Is the design and speed of the track really to blame here? If that wall had been higher and/or the pole hadn't been exposed would he have survived the crash?
Lugers crash all the time. Perhaps this is just a terrible accident and no one is to blame.
Posted by tacomagirl on February 16, 2010 at 8:53 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 29
You know, Hockey is dangerous too, but you don't hear the players whining about that ...
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 16, 2010 at 11:42 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 30
and @16 - you're just jealous cause Canada got it's first Gold medal in an Olympics held in Canada .... ever.
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 16, 2010 at 11:44 AM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 31
Um, not likely, Will, seeing as we're way ahead of Canada in the medal count.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on February 16, 2010 at 11:55 AM · Report this
NumberOne 32
@ 20, the guy that fell and did that awesome save was Armin Zoeggeler. He isn't representing the Swiss, he is from sweet, sweet Italy:………
Posted by NumberOne on February 17, 2010 at 8:58 AM · Report this

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