The range of ugliness – from the catty to the racist to the fatal – is significant because it exposes the reality of what the recent Winter Olympics are all about. As sports commentator Dave Zirin points out, “Going for the gold” is no longer about winning races but beating American Idol’s Simon Cowell in the ratings.

It was called the “Own the Podium” campaign, Canada’s efforts to win enough gold medals to make Ron Paul defect. Its zeal for gold meant such sporting practices as locking athletes from other countries out of the practice facilities. Anything for an edge. This lockout included the luge sliders at the whip-fast run in Whistler. As a result, a Georgian luger by the name of Nodar Kumaritashvili had only one-tenth the practice runs as his Canadian opponents when he lost control and sped to his death.

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