Olympic luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili was killed during a training run accident on Friday, just hours before the opening of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
[February 15th update: NBC News has pulled the video we had linked earlier. Here’s an article the network is now running, describing the controversy over the video clip.
We’ve replaced it with this clip from ABC News. As noted on the pre-roll, the video contains graphic content. Viewer discretion is advised.]
Kumaritashvili’s death came on his second training run of the day at the Whistler Sliding Centre, the official 2010 Olympic venue for luge, bobsled, and skeleton. The track is the fastest in the world, with a vertical drop of 498 feet and lugers reaching speeds of up to 98 miles per hour in the final turn.
Kumaritashvili was killed on that final turn: he crashed coming out, flying off the track and into an unpadded support pole. Medics were standing right at the crash site and reached the luger in three seconds, but Kumaritashvili was pronounced dead after being airlifted to a nearby trauma center.
Nodar Kumaritashvili was one of two luge entrants from the Republic of Georgia, and one of eight Olympic athelete total from Georgia. The rest of the team decided to march in the 2010 Winter Olympic opening ceremonies last night, wearing black armbands.
More at our full Nodar Kumaritashvili biography >>