by Ralph Routon
The steady buildup of euphoria in and around the 2010 Winter Olympics turned into shock up in the mountains at Whistler, after a practice crash Friday killed luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili from the nation of Georgia.
Kumaritashvili, 21, was preparing for his first Olympics and was on a practice run at the Whistler Sliding Center when he veered off the course's final turn, separated from his sled and slammed into an unpadded steel pole. Anyone who saw the crash, or the grisly replays shown throughout Olympic venues soon thereafter, instantly realized there would be little if any chance for survival.
Paramedics attempted CPR, including chest compressions, but Kumaritashvili never responded.
There was no immediate indication whether the death would have any impact on the opening ceremonies tonight at B.C. Place.
Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, is expected to provide more details at a pre-opening news conference at 2:30 p.m. Mountain time.