Host City: Vancouver, Canada
Date Started: February 13, 2010
Date Finished: February 16, 2010
Participants: 107 (78 men and 29 women) from 24 countries
Youngest Participant: Justin Snith (18 years, 72 days)
Oldest Participant: Rubén González (47 years, 203 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 12 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): Germany (5 medals)
Situated on the slopes of Blackcomb Mountain the Whistler Sliding Centre hosted the bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events at the 2010 Winter Games. Construction was completed in November 2007 and in February 2008 the first lugers descended the course as part of the homologation of the track.The track at its full length was 1,450 m long with 16 turns and a drop of 152 m at an average gradient of 10.2%.
Whistler soon gained a reputation as being the fastest track in the world with speeds of 150 km/h (93 mph) and some concerns were voiced about the safety of the track though the amount and severity of crashes in competitions held prior to the Olympics were no greater than for other courses.
Criticism was also levelled against the Canadian authorities who restricted the amount of training runs available to foreign crews to the minimum required by the Fédération Internationale de Luge de Course (FIL).
Despite these worries hopes were high for a close and exciting and above all safe event with strong competition in all categories. These hopes were not to last.
During practice on the day of the opening ceremony, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled on the final curve, was slung from one side of the track to another and was finally catapulted over the edge of the ice wall. He crashed into a metal pole and, sadly, died of his injuries. He was the first luger to be killed in training or competition for 34 years. There was a poignant moment during the opening ceremony when a one minute silence was held in his memory. There were concerns as to whether the luge events would even take place, but following an enquiry, additional safety features were hastily added to the course, and distances shortened for each of the events.
When competition got underway the traditional power of Germany won the most medals in the sport (2 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze), followed by Austria with 1 gold and 1 silver medal. Latvia and Italy each picked up one of the minor medals. The attempt of Armin Zöggeler to win a third successive gold medal in the men’s singles ended in failure but he did have the compensation of winning the bronze, his fifth consecutive medal in that event.