Slovak flag bearer at February's Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver Žigmund Pálffy had mixed emotions during the parade of nations at BC Place Stadium. On the one hand, the hockey phenomenon was overwhelmed by the euphoric atmosphere; on the other hand he was shaken, just like every sportsman and spectator, by the sudden tragedy preceding the fire lighting, the TASR newswire reported.
“It was awesome, a great experience. And the best part was that I didn't stumble (during the parade)...” the 37-year-old hockey player told TASR jokingly. "But seriously, it's not every day that you get to be a part of this. I was delighted by the privilege and honour to carry our national flag," said Pálffy, sharing the pleasant memories first.
The opening ceremony of Winter Olympics has been overshadowed by a tragedy, however. Olympic luger Nodar Kumaritashvili representing the country of Georgia died on February 12 after a high-speed crash on a track during training. The 21-year-old luger lost control of his sled, went over the track wall and struck an unpadded steel pole near the finish line at Whistler Sliding Centre.
“Obviously, this had an impact on all the athletes here. We observed a minute of silence, with everyone trying ... to process this tragedy. I have no insight into what happened with the luger on the track, but this is a deep loss for his relatives, loved ones and the whole country he represented,” said Pálffy. TASR
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15. Feb 2010 at 14:00