So this is what the Olympics have become, a dateline for a death sport. It wasn't enough for organizers to build a safe, practical sliding track on Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler. No, they had to design a $105 million monster that turned the luge into a joyride to hell, with wicked turns, a 152-meter drop -- the world's longest -- and a surface so rapid that it lured racers to approach 95 mph.
Too fast. Too dangerous. And too deadly for a mere sled -- basically, a missile upon which a human being slides face-up and feet-first, vulnerable to his immediate demise.
All week, there have been crashes on the course, more than a dozen in total, one that left a Romanian athlete unconscious for a brief time. And all week, not a soul from the International Olympic Committee, the International Luge Federation or the Vancouver organizing committee expressed concerns about the wipeouts. Nevermind that one racer had described the 13th curve as the "50-50 Curve,'' based on the odds of a crash. Nevermind that 15 months ago, when the sport's elite racers familiarized themselves with the Whistler Sliding Center, athletes suffered 73 crashes during training runs. Nevermind that as recently as Thursday, U.S. luger Christian Niccum compared ramming into the ice at 90 mph to being on fire, saying, "I just wanted to rip off my suit, 'I'm on fire. I'm on fire.' '' And nevermind that on the same day, Australian luger Hannah Campbell-Pegg voiced an ominous tone and a cry for help.