Today started with so much excitement and promise. The official start of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
But it was marred by tragedy. This morning, Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili died after crashing violently in a training run. It was heartbreaking news, and the saddest part of the crash was that it feels like it could have been prevented. Several luge athletes have crashed in training runs over the past week, including the 2002 and 2006 men’s gold medalist. A female athlete was knocked unconscious in a training crash. Another said she felt like a “lemming” being thrown down the track without concern for her safety. Yet, the race must go on.
That’s one of the most unfortunate side-effects of an international event like the Olympics. Yes, the best athletes in the world are here. But the best athletes in some countries are not good enough to compete against the best in the world. Yet they compete against world-class athletes on tracks and courses built to test the best. And they are put in danger because of it. Kumaritashvili was 21 years old and competing in his first Olympic Games. And my heart goes out to his family.
Needless to say, there was a sadness looming over the Opening Ceremonies. Although I had a ticket, I chose to watch the ceremony with friends at the Oakley house in Yale Town. It was my friend Diane’s birthday, Lindsay didn’t have a ticket because of a credential mix-up and I was feeling even more drawn to my friends than usual. I was excited and honored to watch the Beijing ceremony in person. But that night, I spent four hours surrounded by people I didn’t know, many of whom didn’t speak the same language as me, and wishing I had a friend sitting next to me.
I made the right choice. We had a great, relaxing night. We sang the Happy Birthday song and ate cake. And we even got to take our photo with one of the torches!
WHO NEEDS GRETZKY?!