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Flags at half-staff in respect of luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili

2010-02-14 11:50 BJT

Special Report: 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games |

Competitors and fans at the Winter Olympic Games's mountain venue, Whistler were doing their best to overcome their sadness and enter the Olympic spirit following the death of Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili at the luge course before the games began.

Flags were raised to half mast and visitors to the town which is staging bobsleigh, luge, downhill ski and Nordic events, paid their respects at a makeshift memorial beneath the Olympic rings. Flowers lay beside a photograph of tragic 21 year old killed in a high speed accident during training. Those involved with the sport said they were having to learn to adapt quickly to what had happened.

The Canadian, Olympic and Vancouver 2010 flags fly at half-staff in respect of luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili in Whistler, British Columbia, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010. Kumaritashvili of Georgia crashed and died on Friday, during a men's singles luge training run at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.(AP Photo/Gero Breloer) 
The Canadian, Olympic and Vancouver 2010 flags fly at half-staff 
in respect of luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili in Whistler, 
British Columbia, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010. Kumaritashvili of Georgia
 crashed and died on Friday, during a men's singles luge training 
run at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.(AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

Dwight Bell, President of US Luge, said, "The technical officials in matters like this really take over and so we rely on their good judgment. So a lot of the details are being sorted out right now And in fact we are on our way to sort of get into the schedule and all the details so we have a lot of faith in all the technical officials."

Olympic officials maintain that the super-fast track is safe, saying the death is the first in over 5,000 descents of the track. However, they have shortened the luge track for both men and women as an extra safety precaution.

Training resumed at the Sliding Centre with the men completing two full runs from what had been the women's start, and the women and doubles events would begin even further down the track.