Will luge tragedy mar the Vancouver games?

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Just hours before the XXI Winter Olympics were to officially begin with the opening ceremonies, a Georgian luger has been killed following a horrific crash.

Nodar Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled near the bottom of the luge course during a practice round today, crashing at full speed into a metal pole.  He was given CPR afterwards, then lifted into an ambulance and sent to hospital before he was declared dead.

Various news agencies are reporting that replays of the tragedy were being viewed all throughout the Olympic Village   The International Olympic Committee has since invoked its copyrights on the crash video and yanked it from YouTube, but it's still accessible at many other sites, including the New York Post.

To say that this puts a whole new "perspective" on the Vancouver games is a gross cliche, but prepare to hear about it for the next couple of days.  Then surely all involved with making these games a success (such as the NBC television network) will  pivot from dwelling on the sadness of this young athlete's death, to trump up the "human spirit" that invariably dominates the Up Close and Personal segments of American broadcast Olympic adventures, a staple since Roone Arledge introduced it back in the 1970's to capture a female audience.

Kumaritashvili is not the first luger to die at an Olympics. At the 1964 Winter Games in innsbruck, Austria, British luger Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypecki died in a crash during training.

At the Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008,  the father-in law of the U.S. team's men's volleyball coach was stabbed to death after the first full day of competition.

Previously, the worst news coming out of Vancouver was the lack of snow, which led the Vancouver Games Organizing Committee to have to truck in more more than 3,000 cubic meters of snow to Cypress Mountain the site of the Olympic Games snowboarding and freestyle skiing venue.

There have also been protests today in Vancouver,  with anti-globalization ctivists intending to try to disrupt the final leg of the torch relay outside the stadium where the opening ceremonies will be held.

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