Despite the somber news that an athlete from the Republic of Georgia died in a training accident Friday, the 2010 Winter Olympics got off to a jubilant start. With more than 50,000 spectators looking on, 2,500 athletes from a record 82 countries—competing for medals in 86 events—paraded through BC Place Stadium for the first-ever indoor Opening Ceremony. Amid elaborate tributes to Canada's culture and history, Canadian singers Nelly Furtado, Sarah McLachlan and others performed. Earlier in the day, Nodar Kumaritashvili died after a crash during a practice run. The 21 year old lost control of his sled, went over the track wall, and hit an unpadded steel pole. It’s unclear how fast Kumaritashvili was going, but many sliders on the track—which is the world’s fastest and has raised some safety concerns among athletes—have exceeded 90 miles per hour. In the Opening Ceremony, Georgia's athletes wore black armbands in honor of Kumaritashvili, and the Olympic and Canadian flags have been lowered to half-staff.
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