A shock to the world deals a blow to integrity

Following the devastating crash of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run on Feb. 12, officials lowered the starting spot for the men’s luge competition to significantly reduce the speed competitors will face. I have the greatest sympathies for those close to Kumaritashvili, but changing the event is not the answer to this problem. The risk involved in the Winter Olympics is painfully obvious and that risk is one that athletes face every day in building their character and competitive spirit.

In Sept. 2009, at the U.S. Short Track Speed Skating Olympic Team trials in Marquette, Michigan, J.R. Celski crashed during a semifinal race and suffered a severe laceration to his left leg from his own skate. This injury is merely one example of the dangers of winter sports that athletes overcome daily. Celski’s gash came close to severing his femoral artery, according to an interview with Celski on NBC on Feb. 14. His injury was not unique in the field of speed skating, and yet the blades have not been dulled, nor have the participants been required to wear protective gear on their arms and legs.

An attempt to reduce the speed of the luge competition is a noble effort for the memory of Nodar Kumaritashvili, but it is a step in the wrong direction.

Ski jumpers jump out of the equivalent of a fourteen-story building, speed skaters carry lethal weapons on their feet, alpine skiers reach speeds over 80 miles per hour on some courses and a single misstep for any of these athletes could turn fatal without a change to the sport as it stands.

Changing the starting point deals a significant blow to the integrity of the sport for it claims that world-class athletes cannot handle the task they have trained several years to accomplish.

Dennis Griffin,

junior in LAS