Luge: "I would rather die than be called a woman"

posted by After Atalanta
Wednesday, February 17, 2010 at 12:42pm EST

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That's the message I am getting after the start of the men's single luge competition was moved farther down the track in an attempt to temper the high speeds that seemed to result in the death of Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili,* during a training run last Friday.
This story is not breaking news of course, but I started to hear the grumbles about the start's move pretty much the day it started. Why? Well, one because it corroborates the party line that Kumaritashvili died because of luger error and not because of the course, which is on record as the fastest in the world. And one would think that given the pride those involved in the endeavor had over the speediness that they would have taken certain precautions. But I guess all that hubris gets in the way of covering steel beams with padding.
But the second and more relevant (to me) reason for the disgruntledness is because the new start is the women's singles start. I am sorry--it was where the women were slated to started. But since they moved the men's start, apparently they had to move the women's start--to the juniors start. Because we certainly cannot have the women competing from the same starting spot. Such a threat to these male athlete' masculinity and apparently to their personalities if you listen to American luger Tony Benshoof. His "driving" personality has been muted by the lower start and the slower speeds and the overall easier course, he says. Oh my god! He's becoming a girl!!
Because now the course, some allege, is "too easy." Apparently so easy a girl could do it. But they can't because, as I noted, their start has been moved down to where the children compete. (Note too that the conditions have been pretty lousy because of warm temps at Whistler.)
So this whole thing reminds me (without the tragic component, of course) of golf (the tees)--but on ice and more dangerous. I wonder if there's a "dicks out" equivalent in luge?

*I have it really strange that in most of the television coverage, Kumaritashvili's name is rarely mentioned. He is referred to as "the Georgian luger" or "the young Georgian luger." I have to believe that if this was a westerner who had died, the name would be used repeatedly. It was a very strange "silence."

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