Day Two: Oh No They Didn’t

Word is that — yes — the luge competition will go on.  Tonight.  In prime-time.  Notwithstanding the fact that a guy died on the track yesterday.  AP / NBC confirms it:

Fast and frightening, yes. Responsible for the death of a luger, no. 

Olympic officials decided late Friday night against any major changes in the track or any delays in competition and even doubled up on the schedule in the wake of the horrifying accident that claimed the life of a 21-year-old luger from the republic of Georgia.

They said they would raise the wall where the slider flew off the track and make an unspecified “change in the ice profile” – but only as a preventative measure “to avoid that such an extremely exceptional accident could occur again.” …

The International Luge Federation and Vancouver Olympic officials said their investigation showed that the crash was the result of human error and that “there was no indication that the accident was caused by deficiencies in the track.”

Last night, the local NBC affiliate in Chicago (who sent a reporter to Vancouver for some unknown reason) said that the B.C. coroner’s office and the RCMP were conducting an investigation and would not release the track to training, much less competition, until the investigation was complete.  The investigation, it seems, took no longer than an investigation on the Dan Ryan at rush-hour.  Positively criminal.

Remainder of the docket, and other thoughts, post-jump.

— Early morning teevee reported that the temperature in Vancouver (on a mountain nearby, anyway) was 45.  At 0-dark-30.  Not surprising, then, that men’s downhill is a no-go, on account of slush.

— Otherwise: NBC has biathalon (women’s — our shot in this is on the men’s side), ski jumping (U.S. is worth fuck-all here) and the 5000m in long track (Shani Davis considered a longshot) in the afternoon.  Short track (Ohno!) and women’s moguls (with, we were told dozens of times yesterday, real gold opportunity for Canada City) at night.  Women’s hockey prelims on cable.

— Speaking of which, there is not a little bit of outrage amongst hockey fans that the Canada / U.S. men’s hockey game next Sunday night is not on the Mothership, but on MSNBC.  Up in Canada City, this game — even though it’s not for a medal — is stop-traffic, I-don’t-care-if-my-mom’s-called-for-the-ninth-time riveting . Here?  Ice dancing, of course, is on that night, and you do not fuck with ice dancers.  So: Actual Sport 0:1 Event Where Scoring Is Made Up As You Go Along.

— Day One was actually yesterday (I would have called it Day Zero, but it turns out there was some official ski jumping prelims), and was handled well by our crack commenters here.  Contrary to some here, I dug the poetry deal.  It contained a zinger in re creeping U.S. American hegemony (with respect to zed and not zee).  That, and absence of Celine from the program, more than made up for lower moments (such as, for instance, Sarah McLachlan).


I feel an unaccountable weariness creeping upon my eyes.

Benedick: You’re not the only one. (Perhaps for a different reason. Granted.)

I am SO FUCKING PISSED at the IOC / Vancouver goons who are going on with this luge event. There is the whole “show must go on” thing, of course, but — for fuck’s sake — a guy got killed yesterday.

And if you saw the tragedy full-speed, it is beyond nauseating. Think of a motorcyclist hitting a lightpole at 90mph and coming to a complete stop, instantly. That’s what happened here. The engineering is simply reckless. An ad hoc fix conceived of in 12 hours or less is not going to work. Chances are that we will not have anyone else killed. But those chances are way too high to even permit this to continue. And if someone else gets killed? It would be beyond tragic. It would be out-and-out criminal.

Are you kidding? Of course they’re going to run the luge event in prime time! How could they not?

People will watch in hopes of seeing a disaster, or at least for the titillation of watching others go down a track on which someone died just a few days before.

I’m glad you guys are watching so I don’t have to.

karen marie: There may very well be a NASCAR aspect to this, it is true.

The comparable event here is Dale Earnhardt dying on the last turn at Daytona in 2001. It took them months to mandate a solution — the so-called SAFER barrier. IOC / VANOC is doing this on the fly, however.

which olympic games are competing for the gold in death of athletes?

a) berlin
b) munich
3) vancouver

later, i will express my disgust for the equestrian committee for deciding making the jump barriers safer for horse and rider would negatively affect the great way they LOOK. now that, is fucking retarded.

That’s NBC. Ice Dancing, cause they want the Soccer mom viewership.

As for the whole games, I’m feeling very uneasy about the Vancouver one. I’m not sure if it’s the rumors of being 6 Bils in the hole (CDN) or the cone of silence or the general prickishness of the organizers or the fact that the company that runs Whistler defaulted on its payments.

I feel bad for a lot of folks who want to be proud.

I guess nationalism isn’t really in my blood.

Pat Buchanan just seriously said, “There’s no doubt that the arctic ice mass at the north pole is shrinking, but the south pole is expanding.” What? Did he not get the memo?

Edit: Oh yeah, and how ’bout them ‘Lympics? Those lugers have got guts, I must admit. I mean, it takes some fortitude to participate in the first place, but I know that, if it were me, every time I hit that last corner, I’d be freaking out about flying out of the track…

@karen marie: I am sure there is a death luge pool somewhere with odds pegged to the number and frequency of luge fatalities in Vancouver.

Biathalon – “our shot in this is on the men’s side” – *rimshot!* I’m missing the event due to a wedding but maybe I can see it online. Hitting a goddamn 50 cent (the coin, not the rapper) size target at 50 m even with a special target model .22 LR rifle and match grade ammo with a heart rate of 185 is pretty fucking remarkable.

Spring skiing conditions are fun, but not for the downhill. They ice those courses down. I do like making jumping gorilla turns in the slush and corn snow in the spring. Packed powder for tomorrow up at the local hill.

@redmanlaw: I’m sorry, but even curling and ice dancing make more sense to me as a sport than the biathalon. It’s like they put a bunch of unrelated activities into a hat, drew out two, and said, “Perfect! They ski a little, then they lay down and shoot at something!” It feels like it could as easily have evolved to include, say, kayaking and axe throwing.

@chicago bureau: YouTube has pulled the video. But I did see it — zoooooooom, FULL STOP.

@baked: Munich immediately crossed my mind, aided by Manchu’s comment last night about CanuckTV announcers blathering about the “Olympic Spirit” in wake of the death. 1972 pretty much ended that claptrap for me — never saw Walter announce JFK, but Jim McKay saying “They’re all gone” remains a fresh memory.

I’m waiting for the Christian Olympics. Would have to come from Texas, of course. The Mormons might have staged the opening ceremony since they’re good with the razzamatazz but the Southern Baptists objected. Naturally the Episcopalians would be excluded on account of the gays. Likewise the Unitarians. Catholics are, of course, idolators so they’d be out. I’m mostly looking forward to the synchronized swimming in Modest swimsuits – without all the nasty bulges and/or clingy bits. Rick Warren might compete in the pie eating. I think this could really go someplace. And if it’s organized by American evangelicals everyone will make a ton of money. I’m calling my people ASAP.

And speaking of spandex, I must say this whole Sport on Ice thing with the flown in snow, does feature a better class of spandex. And less of those huge meaty bums and men going woo! Both are big plusses.

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