Just hours before the opening ceremony, a pall was cast over the 2010 Olympic Games in Canada when Kumaritashvili died after an accident in training.
The 21-year-old crashed near the end of the track, at the time reputed to be the fastest in the world, at the Whistler Sliding Center and went over the wall before appearing to collide with a steel pole close to the finishing line.
Rescue officials performed chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation at the scene before the athlete was airlifted to hospital with life-threatening injuries.
However, the IOC later confirmed that he had died with a post-mortem revealing he had suffered extensive injuries to his head and torso.
It was not known how fast Kumaritashvili had been travelling at the time of the accident, although sliders had been clocked at in excess of 90mph on the same track.
Luge training was suspended immediately after the incident – Italian favourite Armin Zoggeler had earlier crashed after losing control of his sled – and team captains were summoned to a meeting.
Competitors, who wore a strip of black tape on the left side of their helmets as a mark of respect, were allowed to return to a modified track the next day.
A high bank around the bend had been altered, while the men's start gate was moved down to the one usually used for women and the four rounds of the competition passed without further incident.
Germany's Felix Loch claimed gold ahead of compatriot David Moller with reigning champion Zoggeler third.