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HomeBusinessRemembering Nodar, 10 years after the Olympics luge tragedy in Whistler

Remembering Nodar, 10 years after the Olympics luge tragedy in Whistler

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Bob Mackin

Competition in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics began on the Whistler Olympic Park ski jumps in the Callaghan Valley on Feb. 12, 2010, eight hours before the opening ceremony in Vancouver.

Further up the Sea-to-Sky Highway, overlooking Whistler Village, lugers were taking their final rides on the Whistler Sliding Centre track.

Whistler Olympic Plaza on Feb. 12, 2020, where late Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili was remembered on the 10th anniversary of the tragic crash at the Whistler Sliding Centre (Mackin)

Nodar Kumaritashvili, a 21-year-old Georgian, would become the last to depart the men’s start on what had been hyped as the world’s most-extreme sliding track.

Near the end of his run, his sled went out of control and he was catapulted into a pole. An hour later, he was pronounced dead at the Whistler Olympic Village’s polyclinic.

Months after the Games ended, evidence showed it was a preventable crash. The track’s architect had told VANOC officials in 2009 that athlete speeds on the track were greater than what the design called for. 

Terrance Kosikar was the first track medic to rush to Kumaritashvili’s aid. He has kept the athlete’s memory alive during the past decade. On Feb. 12, 2020, he was joined by Georgian Ambassador to Canada Konstantin Kavtaradze to march through Whistler Village to a memorial service at Whistler Olympic Park.

They were joined by members of the local Georgian diaspora, as well as Ken Melamed, the Olympic-time mayor of Whistler, and Rob Vagramov, the mayor of Port Moody whose father volunteered with the Georgian delegation.

“It was a day that changed a lot of our lives,” said Mo Douglas, former community relations director with VANOC, the Games organizing committee.  “In my mind, he’s a hero, he’ll be a legend. I’m so proud Whistler embraced that. It’s part of our Olympic history.

“He’s in my heart, more than Feb. 12.”

Watch highlights of the memorial below.

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