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Poor Decisions 02/19/2010

Posted by sportretort in Sports, Uncategorized.
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A shrine to the fallen athlete

Bad decisions. A week into the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver, Canada, the games have been marred by bad decisions. unfortunately, many of the decisions that have impacted these games happened long before the athletes arrived. The unintended consequences of these decisions have ranged from annoyance to tragic.

The biggest questions center around the Whistler Sliding Centre, where Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili lost his life towards the end of his training run just hours before the games began. The 21-year-old made a steering mistake, flew off the track and impacted a steel post while traveling over 80 miles an hour. He never had a chance. This track is reputed to be the fastest in the world. But in no competition should a mistake cost a competitor his life. Kumaritashvili reportedly told his father days before the incident that he was scared of the track. His was not the only crash that day, but it was the most devastating. After the incident, The mens start was moved some 200 yards down the track, and a wall was erected at the impact point for protection. If that wall had been there from the beginning, perhaps the Georgian luger would be alive today. The problems at the Sliding Centre are not limited fo the luge. There were at least seven bobsled crashes during the first training runs Wednesday evening. When competitions of this sort are contemplated, safety must be the first priority.

Safety concerns have not been exclusive to the Sliding Centre. The Women’s Alpine course has been shortened and the final jump, called Hot Air, has been shaved to lower the dangerous air time generated in Wednesday’s downhill final, which was marred by several spectacular crashes. In addition, there have been many glitches in these games. There were timing issues in both men’s and women’s biathlon events, leading to several times being adjusted after the events ran. The ice making machine malfunctioned at a long track speed skating event earlier in the week leading to stoppages in the competition totaling almost 2 1/2 hours.

Fans in Vancouver have complained about a lack of access to snap an unobstructed photo of the flame

Even the opening ceremonies were marred as one of the arms for the cauldron used in the lighting ceremony malfunctioned. Fans have also been inconvenienced. Over 20,000 tickets to last night’s mens half-pipe finals were voided when it was deemed that the standing room area had been made unsafe by weather conditions. The ticket price will be refunded, but that is of small consolation to anyone who traveled from far away and were left scrambling to find a way into the event. Heck, even the location of the Olympic Flame has been called into question. Usually the most iconic symbol of any Olympic Venue, there have been many, many complaints that the public can not get close enough to the flame to snap an unobstructed photo of the Flame. People want to photograph the flame, who knew? The restraining fence was moved Thursday, allowing greater public access to this most olympic of symbols. Any event of this size has issues, and things will probably settle down as the games go on. I have not even mentioned the fan transportation issues since they seem to plague all games. But for some, it is too late. When courses are designed, ‘safest’ should be given more attention than ‘hardest’ or ‘fastest.’ One has to wonder if the athletes were taken into consideration at all when these games were designed.

Decisions. They have unintended consequences. The poor planning of the 2010 planning committee will be a defining legacy of these games.

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