Chandigarh, February 12
Shiva Keshavan, the man who periodically brought the strange world of icy sports into the consciousness of Indian sports fans, has ended his career, finishing 34th at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Before Keshavan, there was little for Indian media to write about the Winter Olympics. For some reason, it was only women’s figure skating that attracted attention — especially superstars such as Katarina Witt or Michelle Kwan. Or a weird story, such as a team from the sunny Jamaica competing at the Winter Olympics.
Before Keshavan, no one would have thought it possible that India would compete at the Winter Olympics in a sport that is unfathomable to most Indian fans.
The luge competition involves lying prone on your back on a sled, which goes around an icy track at very high speeds, up to 140km/hour. The sled is steered by subtle body pressure and shift of weight on it.
Today, before he launched his sled on his final run in the Olympics, Keshavan took a long breath, trained his eyes on the track ahead, closed his helmet visor and started.
Less than a minute later, he was done, having finished with a time of 48.900 seconds, the 30th best in the third heat. He lifted his sled above his head and celebrated, even as fans cheered him. His family and friends, comprising his support base at the venue, were carrying the national flag and placards that said ‘Go Shiva’ and ‘Nothing can stop the fire’. His final race was done.
Today his speed was clocked at 119.8km/hour for the 1.344km race. The gold went to David Gleirscher, whose top speed today was 121.6km/hour. The difference was less than 2km/hour, but it resulted in a difference of 33 positions.
For the record, Keshavan finished 34th among 40 competitors. He had timed 50.578s and 48.710s yesterday, and his three-round total was 2m, 28.188s.