Olympic Ceremonies Open, Luge Athlete Killed in Training

Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died during a training run today. NBC's Olympic coverage began tonight with a video of his fatal crash.

It's only the second time an athlete has been killed during the Olympics. The luge course seems incredibly dangerous. And it's an inauspicious way to begin the Games. But the ceremonies opened on schedule.

Kumaritashvili will be honored during tonight's ceremonies. [More...]

There will be several measures taken on Friday evening at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Games to honor the 21 year old luge athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili.

The President of the IOC, Jacques Rogge and the VANOC Chief Executive Officer, John Furlong, will honor the memory of Mr. Nodar Kumaritashvili during the Ceremony. The Olympic and Canadian Flags will be lowered to half mast, and the audience will also have the opportunity to participate in honoring him.

The Georgian National Olympic Committee (NOC) and its athletes announced this afternoon that they will wear black stripes as they march in the Opening Ceremonies to recognize their teammate’s untimely death. They will also place a black patch on the Georgian flag that will be raised immediately following the parade of athletes.

There have been a lot of injuries during training. Are they pushing these athletes too hard? The weather is still problematic, today it's raining. NBC expects to lose $250 million on its Olympics coverage.

NBC paid $820 million in rights fees for the Vancouver Games. And while the 2006 Winter Games in Turin posted a profit of almost $200 million, the Vancouver Games are projected to lose $200-250 million. Primetime commercials are selling for $500,000 to $600,000. Trusted Olympic advertisers like Johnson & Johnson and Eastman Kodak have dropped out.

The NBC family of networks will have 835 hours of Olympic coverage.

Too much? I sure could have skipped the pre-ceremony show. If you're watching the opening ceremonies, let us know what you think. And I forgot about that really annoying NBC announcer named Nancy. I muted her during the Beijing Olympics and it looks like I'll be doing it again.

Best online site is not NBC in my view, but the AP Winter Games site. As for ESPN, it seems mostly to be a portal to other sites and twitter feeds. Maybe that will change once the games begin.

As for the ending of tonight's ceremonies:

[T]he show was to climax with the Olympic cauldron being lit jointly by four Canadian sports heroes — all-time hockey great Wayne Gretzky, skier Nancy Greene, speedskater Katrina LeMay Doan, and basketball All-Star Steve Nash.

Update: John Furlong, the chief executive of the Vancouver Organizing Committee, told the athletes:

May you carry his Olympic dream on your shoulders and compete with his spirit in your hearts
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  • Display: Sort:
    Unpadded steel beams next to an ice chute... (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by magster on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 08:43:20 PM EST
    ... where humans are racing by at 90 m.p.h.  How irresponsible!!

    They should cancel the luge or move down the starting gate to lower the speeds.  Even a gold medal favorite crashed his luge before this accident.

    It does seem an incredibly bad design. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 08:46:15 PM EST
    The Winter Games do involve an inherent risk of death in several sports. But from what I can seem, this track puts the racers at unduly high risk.

    That's the first thing I thought when I saw the (none / 0) (#4)
    by Angel on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 08:52:21 PM EST
    video of this on tonight's news:  steel beams and they weren't padded?  I couldn't believe it!  So very sad.

    I've never designed a luge track, but (none / 0) (#5)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 08:54:22 PM EST
    I'm wondering how much padding it would require to avoid serious injury/death when hitting it at 90 mph. He was so close to the posts when he became airborne, he couldn't have slowed down by much by the time he hit.

    Heartbreaking all the way around.


    I would think... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 08:57:23 PM EST
    ... that some barrier to exiting the course would be more effective than padding the beams. If you hit a beam at 90 MPH, padding will save you occasionally, but not often.

    Air bag, maybe (none / 0) (#13)
    by Inspector Gadget on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 09:27:33 PM EST
    like they use in stunts.

    If hitting water at a high speed is like hitting concrete, I don't know what they can do other than try to design the track so no one can fly out of it.


    I watched this with my daughter (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by cpresley on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 12:42:05 AM EST
    Who is an emt firefighter, and all she could say was Oh my God. He hit this beam at 85 miles an hour with his back. There was nothing that would have helped him in this case. The only good thing according to my daughter was he died on impact.

    We were shocked that they would show this film. Firefighters go out of their way to block scenes like this from the lookyloues.


    Well, I thought about netting, but that would (none / 0) (#8)
    by Angel on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 09:02:58 PM EST
    probably thrown them back across the track and into the other wall.  Some sort of padding seems necessary, though you may be correct in that the end result in this case may have not been any different.  

    I think showing the video (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by byteb on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 09:06:04 PM EST
    of the fatal crash at the beginning of the programing was a rather morbid decision on NBC's part, IMO.

    I can't believe NBC announcers are (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 09:06:48 PM EST
    providing commentary during it. Is there a place just to watch the ceremony?

    Try to find some (none / 0) (#11)
    by gyrfalcon on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 09:16:46 PM EST
    English site/channel, BBC or something.  The Brits don't do all that yak-yak-yak.

    Canadian television was fabulous during the (none / 0) (#12)
    by Angel on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 09:19:57 PM EST
    Salt Lake City olympics.  Not that that helps us any now.  The NBC people always yak too much, especially that Mary Carillo.  

    Agree about too much chatter overall (none / 0) (#17)
    by ap in avl on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 10:48:23 PM EST
    but I personally love Mary Carillo.  From what I've seen on many other sites, people either love her or hate her.  I've never understood that because I find her refreshing but I've like to understand what makes her so annoying to others.  Help me out here.....

    She just doesn't know when to shut up. That's (none / 0) (#29)
    by Angel on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 08:58:50 AM EST
    one of the things for me.  Also, her voice just grates on my nerves.  She drove me crazy during the last Olympics in Bejing.  lol  To each his own, I guess....

    Had one of those ridiculous workplace (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by ruffian on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 10:00:00 PM EST
    conversations about who would light the cauldron. My co-worker was sure it would be Gretzky, and I asked whether he had been in the Olympics, because, I added, it was usually an Olympian that lit the cauldron. I never said it was a hard and fast rule, just tradition. Well, this guy and my cube mate proceeded to google Olympic torch lighters and prove me wrong because in the last 100 years there have been like 3 or 4 non -Olympians that lit the torch, at least one of whom was an offspring of an Olympian. Then I caught sh** because I did not know who Steve Nash was. It's a wonder I ever open my mouth around there.

    Anyway I am glad it was a joint effort tonight, including some Olympians along with Gretzky. We still never answered the question of whether he was ever in the Olympics.

    So sad to hear about the luge athlete. Can't imagine what his family is feeling tonight. Or actually I can, having lost a brother in an accident. My heart goes out to them.

    '98 in Nagano (none / 0) (#19)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 10:54:53 PM EST
    Team Canada placed 4th in Men's hockey with The Great One on the team, IIRC.  

    That was the first year pro's were allowed to play.  Since he went pro at an awful young age, he didn't play in the Games before that.  


    thank you! (none / 0) (#26)
    by ruffian on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 07:18:55 AM EST
    I will pass that along if they have not already figured it out.

    I thought it was probably true that he was so young when he entered the NHL that he probably had not played in the Olympics at that time, but I forgot that pros were playing more recently.


    Are you (none / 0) (#32)
    by ghost2 on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 02:58:44 PM EST
    an American living in Canada?

    Joe Biden (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 12:09:59 AM EST
    told NBC when he met with the U.S. team today he told them they are great because they are going in front of the world risking failure.  He's so bizarre.

    Per recent Digby, (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 01:20:20 AM EST
    Speculation Petreaus may become VP and Biden SOS if Gillary Clinton vows out for 2nd term. We are all Georgians now.

    Gee Joe, projecting much? (none / 0) (#27)
    by ruffian on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 07:20:20 AM EST
    I'm sure that is why he thinks he himself is great.

    I thought Opening Ceremonies (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 08:16:37 AM EST
    were spectacular from beginning to end! China raised the bar, and Canada had no trouble achieving the standard set.

    I wonder (2.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Repack Rider on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 10:08:02 AM EST
    How does a luge athlete "train?"  Work on his grip and his screaming?

    Lest we forget Many athletes (none / 0) (#3)
    by oculus on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 08:52:00 PM EST
    died in Munich.

    not from their athletics (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 09:00:07 PM EST
    that was murder.

    Jeralyn, I assume you meant (none / 0) (#14)
    by kmblue on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 09:32:18 PM EST
    "inauspicious" in your initial post.

    thanks, I'll change it (none / 0) (#16)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 10:19:01 PM EST
    kd lang sings Halellujah (none / 0) (#18)
    by ap in avl on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 10:49:52 PM EST

    KD Lang (none / 0) (#21)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 11:36:47 PM EST
    was the best part. Really incredible.

    She'd beginning to look like Wayne Newton tho (none / 0) (#33)
    by DFLer on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 04:03:48 PM EST
    much better singer, ah course

    Leonard Cohen (none / 0) (#31)
    by jondee on Sat Feb 13, 2010 at 11:09:42 AM EST
    Somehow I have trouble imagining an American Olympic opening ceremony in which they'd include something equivalent to that.

    And Joni Mitchell sounds better now than she ever did. Her voice has a mellow, nuanced quality lacking before; like a great jazz singer. Don Juan's real restless daughter.


    I've had it ... (none / 0) (#20)
    by FreakyBeaky on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 11:01:37 PM EST
    I live on the west coast.  Why am I seeing this via tape delay, who was responsible for that decision, and can I please have their head(s) on a stake?

    I don't know who that kid was... (none / 0) (#22)
    by desertswine on Fri Feb 12, 2010 at 11:43:14 PM EST
    doing that wire act while Joni Mitchell sang "Both Sides Now," but he was really spectacular.