A luge athlete from the Republic of Georgia was killed during a training session hours before the Winter Olympic Games were set to open in Vancouver, Canada, on Friday.
Nodar Kumaritashvili, 21, was killed in a tragic crash on the Olympic track at the Whistler Sliding Center on, an official at the track confirmed. Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled near the end of his run, when he was moving at 88 miles per hour. He was propelled over the track wall into a steel pole.
"This is indeed a sad day," International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said at a press conference. "I have no words to say."
The death "clearly casts a shadow over these games," he added.
An investigation has begun as to how the crash on the course -- which many competitors have said may be too fast and too dangerous -- happened.