Friday, February 12, 2010

Tragic day

This should be Opening Ceremony day. But instead, it will be remembered for something very different.

When I walked into work, every other person was sporting something with “Canada” on it. I passed a coffee shop with a business-man-type meeting going on and half the fancy men were wearing suits, the other half, Team Canada apparel. The entire city is buzzing with the Olympic spirit right now.

They were doing a live stream of the men’s luge training runs this morning online. In our room, we have about 30 different tv monitors with tons of different live feeds going on, everything from news broadcasts to live feeds from the broadcast room to different feeds from venues (so everyone can track and watch their own sport). The luge feed was on one of the big monitors that line one side of the room and then also on one of the smaller tvs over on a research table.

Their were about 6 researchers gathered around that one smaller tv and they all gasped while watching the fall of the Georgian luger. Word got around pretty quickly and everyone started checking the live feed we have in our computer systems (you can rewind, grab clips, etc in there) Within about 5 minutes, the entire room had seen the horrific crash of Nodar Kumaritashvi.

And this is a fairly jaded crowd; it's a group that has seen a lot of Olympics and in that time, a lot of crashes. But, right away, there was something about this one that was different. It wasn’t one that you watched over and over again, cringing. A lot of people watched it once and then backed away saying, “I can’t see that again.” Myself included.

The image of Nodar flying over the wall and slamming into the steel pole isn't an image that will go away for a long time.

I overheard some people say that they're going to show a clip on the news tonight and then we’ll have the whole crash online. ….sometimes it’s hard NOT to watch that kind of thing, but this is something that’s very hard to watch. I’m not looking forward to the endless replays I know it will have on the news.

I also learned that I’m totally not cut out for a breaking news type position. I have a hard time staying neutral and just focused on the task.

One of the other producers here was watching the main page for the updated headline to appear – changing what currently read “luger injured” to stating that he had, in fact, died. She turned and said, “this is really bad” and I nodded my head in agreement thinking she was talking about the accident. I quickly realized she was referring to the headline not updating.

That hit me really hard.

Because in one regard, she was right. It was really bad that the site wasn’t updating quickly enough. It’s a news site. It was a news item. It was important that the correct headline was there.

But oh my god – someone just died! An Olympian just died in a training run. I couldn’t move my head past that sad fact in order to think anything else was as important.

I was trying to write a "Five Fun Facts about Johnny Weir" and it just felt too surreal to be trying to work on anything frivolous.

I definitely am not cut out for breaking news. All I can think about is how this young man was gearing up for the experience of his lifetime – and this is how it ends.

The entire room (we share space with the research room and a bunch of others – it’s basically the hub of info in here) was subdued following the accident. (And very quiet during the press conference where Jacques Roggue appeared to almost start crying.) The hallways are filled with talk about the accident and everyone has a look of shock and sadness on their faces.

There’s an aspect of the Winter Olympics that is all about the crashes and the danger – and that’s part of the draw. But you certainly don’t expect a moment like this to occur. But when you live that close to the edge… There are several quotes flying around that were said by lugers before the games started. One person flat out said that someone was going to die on the course. It’s just … well, it’s chilling.

It’s a hard day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

1TT here from BT - I hope you'll be okay from here on out. Thanks for sharing your insight. I hope the rest of the Olympics goes without problems.
Take care, Lunatick! EEEAAAWWW!!!