Bernard Weil, Chief Photographer/Multimedia
Whatever happens during luge competition, it's always in the blink of any eye. That was the case last night at the Whistler Sliding Centre during the men's luge training runs.
Positioned at turn 16, I tried to capture rider on sled, speeding by at 120km/h plus through the Olympic rings painted on the ice surface. It's the kind of feature picture I like to get early at the Olympics so I can concentrate on the start and finish areas during competition in the weeks to come. In the time it takes to type this comma, riders blast through this turn without any visual cue. The only way to anticipate them coming is the progressively louder sound of the sled on ice as it approaches. Then, with careful timing, one frame is all you get to capture the rider flying by over the rings.
Only this time it was different. When I heard marshals yelling further up the track, I had a hunch something was wrong. As the blur flew by, I nailed one frame and voila, rider is AWOL! Nodar Kumaritashvili, of Georgia, probably fell off off at turn 13, which is known for its high degree of difficulty. Somewhere, he was tumbling down the course at high speed.
Strangely, the sled kept a perfect course, speeding toward the uphill finish area, then making a perfect run backwards through my turn a moment later, still at a high speed, and once again returning past the rings at a more manageable speed at which time the marshals could grab onto it.
The sled of Nodar Kumaritashvili, of Georgia, slides empty through the Olympic rings in turn 16 after he crashed further up the track, during men's luge training in Whistler Feb. 10, 2010.