Tuesday, February 16, 2010

British Columnist Blames Canada For Young Luger's Death

At one time if I'd read that statement, I would have dismissed it.

But this country has changed, and the real story here is not that we are being accused of something so egregious, but that someone would think that this country was capable of such actions. If things we did resulted in this athlete's death. Things that could have been avoided.

Martin Samuel certainly thinks so, and he's not alone.

Canada's lust for glory is to blame for this senseless tragedy
Canada wanted to Own The Podium at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games. This morning they can put their maple leaf stamp on something more instantly tangible: the nondescript little box carrying the lifeless body of Nodar Kumaritashvili back to his home in Bakuriani, Georgia. Made in Canada, it should say ....
And why would Samuel draw that conclusion?

Because for months, other nations have been accusing Canada of taking unfair advantage of their home turf.
The track in Whistler is the most demanding ever constructed - 1,450m in length, the largest vertical drop in the world - 152m - with 16 corners and a top speed of 150km/h, all producing a maximum of 5.02 Gs. But the Vancouver Organising Committee have restricted overseas nations to one week's training on the track, the minimum practice time permitted ...

"It's going to be difficult and I know it's on the back of everyone's mind that we've had nowhere near as many runs as the Canadians," said Williams. "We're all thinking it's unfair because you're battling your hardest yet you know they've got such an advantage ... "They've given us a week's training where we'll have 40 runs and for them the sky is the limit - 400 to 500 runs and every run counts.

The Star Tribune from Minniapolis - St. Paul, ran the story under the headline: Canada: No more Mr. Nice Guy:

"Own The Podium," created five years ago, has funded everything from additional training camps to world-renowned coaches to development of cutting-edge equipment. Most of the money has been directed toward sports in which Canadians have the best chances to medal, including hockey, curling and speedskating.

The program represents a significant cultural shift for this nice-guy nation. Canada has not been afraid to hurt other countries' feelings by limiting training time at Olympic venues, a departure from protocol that has drawn criticism outside its borders. It has put its athletes front and center during the buildup to the Games, creating higher expectations -- and more pressure -- than usual.

And even the Huffington Post suggests that We are Washing Away Blood on Guilty Hands. Ed Berliner states that the track in Vancouver was specifically designed to produce times much faster than normally accepted, so as to give Canadians record times, since they would have had far more experience.

The Vancouver track was tested in advance of the Games. The results were alarming and should have set off not merely concerns about the speed, but how it could affect the competition. Speeds of up to 95 MPH. A 12 percent increase in what was planned and expected. Well beyond the current endurance level of these athletes. Well beyond what left the designer's table. At Vancouver, everyone knew and failed to rectify a nightmare waiting to happen.

...Even Udo Gurgel knew something had gone terrible wrong with his track. This was certainly not what his expertise had designed. After all, Canadian athletes had been training on this course for weeks and months, so they had plenty of time to acclimate themselves. Members of the Canadian team had over 300 runs apiece on this track. Other team racers were limited to 40 runs. No mistake. This was planned.

Is this really who we are now?

That winning is everything, even if it means blatantly cheating?

Will other nations look at us, not as able competitor's who rose to the top of our game, but as connivers who made sure that no one else could?

Even the 21 year old victim knew that something was amiss. Just shortly before making his final run, Nodar Kumaritashvili called his dad, stating that he was afraid of the 'brand new, lightning-quick track in Whistler.'

He told me, 'Dad, I really fear that curve,"' David Kumaritashvili, a former luger himself, told The Associated Press at his home in the snow-covered slopes of Georgia's top ski resort.

"I'm a former athlete myself, and I told him, 'you just take a slower start,"' recalled Kumaritashvili, who at times struggled to hold back tears. "But he responded, 'Dad, what kind of thing you are teaching me? I have come to the Olympics to try to win."'

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