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Web Letter

The death on the luge track was a tragedy that could have been prevented. The area where Nodar flew out of the track should have been a solid wall before training started. Deaths in luge and bobsled in the last forty years were all due to sleds leaving the track or athletes hitting objects that were incorrectly sticking into the track.

Soft bodies do not so well when they come in contact with a solid object at 90mph.

Kumaritashvili was young and relatively inexperienced. He made a mistake and crashed. He should not have died due to a mistake made by a track or a International Luge official.

The statement that this track is inherently dangerous is spurious. I was a member of the US Luge Team in the '72 Games. We were regularly hitting speeds in the nineties. Tracks were deliberately slowed down in the eighties when bob and luge started sharing tracks. Athletes today lack the skills to deal with the higher speeds but would regain them if the higher speeds were common on all tracks. The lesson learned is that the sport is dangerous and the leaders/officials of the sport must always think of the safety of the athletes as their first priority.

Jack Elder

Gladstone , OR

Feb 24 2010 - 12:01am

Web Letter

Agreed on all points except Zirin's apparent dispute with NBC for pulling the video of Kumaritashvili's death out of circulation. He may well be right that NBC's motives are less than pure, but there are profound questions of respect involved here. I would rather that NBC had never shown this horrific footage at all, as I think its intrinsic news value to be rather less an issue than the personal tragedy it represents.

I'd be the first to acknowledge that people's motivations for watching these things are often complex, and not necessarily reducible to vicarious thrill-seeking. But if this were my son, I would shudder to think that the visual record of his death was being replayed round the clock, round the world as yet another instance of splatter video. He's not my son, of course, but NBC's airing of this footage offended me powerfully nonetheless.

John Abbott

Oak Park, IL

Feb 23 2010 - 5:27pm

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