The Toronto Star has a great article on the Olympic luge track where the Georgian luger fatally crashed. It has lots of background and commentary from other athletes. Highly recommended: Athletes had feared luge track’s killer potential – Vancouver 2010 Olympics – thestar.com
One thing it didn’t mention is some of the other details written about here: Canada’s Medal Quest – Gold, and Lots of It – NYTimes.com. Canada’s ambitions may have some overlap here with the death of the luger (e.g. limiting foreign teams access to the track). That’s not “blame Canada”: luge is an inheritently dangerous sport, and anyone who competes at the Olympic level knows the dangers and tries to balance them with the need to go the fastest. I believe, though, that more focus needs to be given to the safety of the venues, not just how fast can they be made.
As athletes strain against the limits of what can be done with the human body in the 21st century, they are coming across the limits of going stronger, faster, higher. And their lives will suffer as a result, unless more can be done to make sports safer. That doesn’t mean sports have to become boring: if anything, athletes can use better equipment and terrain to push themselves even further. But no one should die or suffer for the rest of their lives in the quest to be the best.