'We want to honour his life today': Luger who died at 2010 Games remembered in Whistler
WHISTLER, B.C. -- The national anthem for the country of Georgia was played in Whistler Village today. Nodar Kumaritashvili had dreams of hearing it on the podium when he came to compete in the 2010 Olympics. But just hours before the Feb. 12 opening ceremony, the 21-year-old luger died during a practice run at the Whistler Sliding Centre.
"He was a young, talented, ambitious sportsman. He came to Whistler to become a champion," said Konstantin Kavtaradze, Georgia’s ambassador to Canada. Kavtaradze was among dozens who joined a memorial march through Whistler Village on the tenth anniversary of the young athlete’s death.
"We are gathered today to remember. Remember that tragic day that happened 10 years ago today and affected thousands and thousands of people, not just in Canada and Georgia but across the world and left huge sorrow and pity in their hearts. But we are here also to celebrate. Celebrate the life of Nodar Kumaritashvili," said Kavtaradze.
Terrance Kosikar took part in the memorial. He was one of several first responders who tried to save Kumaritashvili after his sled hit a pole.
"This event is very special to me because Nodar was my patient. I want to honour his life today," said Kosikar. "Because Nodar’s family asked that the world remember their son, it’s the only one thing that gives them peace, so for them to be able to see this today in Georgia, for them to understand and know that the world does remember their son? That’s a win-win."
Kumaritashvili wasn’t able to stand on the podium in 2010, but Kavtaradze said his family does have a medal from the games.
"One Austrian luger who won melted down his Olympic medal that he won here in Whistler and made two medals of it. And one of it he shared with Nodar's family. So despite the fact he tragically died here, he became a champion," said Kavtaradze.
Kumaritashvili’s parents are hoping to one day visit Whistler to honour their son. Until then, Kavtaradze says they appreciate Canadians remembering him so long after the games.
"Ten years after the tragedy happened, so many people are gathered here, so many people are paying respect to this young Georgian guy," said Kavtaradze. "Thank you, Canada. Georgians appreciate it."