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Olympic Outsiders

If you can't be inside the Olympic Games, then follow Seattle Times producers, reporters, videographers and Olympic fans as we take you to the streets of Vancouver, B.C., to show you what's happening on the ground and give you a taste of the scene swirling around the 2010 winter games.

February 13, 2010 at 11:44 PM

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Day after luger's death: Ron Judd on the speed of luge and an Outsider view of the first runs

Posted by Stephanie Clary

The men's single luge competition began at the Whistler Sliding Centre today — one day after Georgian slider Nodar Kamaritashvili, 21, died in an accident at the venue.

Before heading to the track to watch the first runs, Tiffany Campbell and I met up with Olympic Insider Ron Judd to discuss the effects of Kamaritashvili's death on the sport and these Winter Games.

An Outsider view of today's competition after the jump.

An hour before the event, it was difficult to tell we were at the scene of a fatal accident: DJ Vinyl Ritchie played music fitting for a wedding reception as spectators trickled into the venue. Children danced, there was a limbo contest and a big screen outlined the basics of luge.

It wasn't until 15 minutes before the competition when the announcer noted a key change to the race: the starting line for men's singles had been moved up 176 meters (577 feet) in response to Kamaritashvili's crash.

Shortly after, there was a significant moment of silence followed by music easing spectators back into the event.

But then, as Judd notes in his latest column, everything was back on track. Cowbells rang and the crowd gasped as lugers sped by at blink-and-you'll-miss-it speeds. Seriously: TV does not do this sport justice.

We weren't the only Outsiders attending a luge event for the first time. Contributor Liz Vernon was there, and she even spotted Queen Latifah(!). Here's what she sent us:

We found the perfect spot to hunker down at Turn 11 and watched as volunteers cleaned the track and checked the temperature to ensure conditions were perfect for the competition. The speed of the luge is just amazing. The brief second in which you get to see the competitors whiz by was met with cheers from the entire crowd. We were in awe.

Eventually we made our way to the finish line and made it just in time to see the Slovenian luger finish his run. Megan's husband is Slovenian, so she was proudly representing with a Slovenian flag. We were swiftly ushered to the front of the crowd with the flag and encouraged by the fans to proudly wave the flag in front of the Slovenian Luger. We even made it on TV!

After the competition we headed to an official Olympic merchandise store, got in line to purchase a few items, and were happy to see Queen Latifah in line behind us!

Here's a photo of Liz Vernon, left, making a pin-trade at the Sliding Centre:

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