KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — On the eve of the Vancouver Olympics, two lifelong friends from the country of Georgia sat down and spent several hours catching up.
The next day, one of them died when luger Nodar Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled, flew off course and slammed into a steel pole.
Iason Abramashvili, the other man in the room that night, will never forget it.
On Wednesday, Abramashvili competed in the giant slalom at the Sochi Games with his good friend on his mind. Abramashvili didn't finish his first run after having trouble with a tricky course setting, but vowed to ski even better in the slalom event this weekend — for Kumaritashvili.
"It's for his memory, for sure," Abramashvili said in an interview with The Associated Press after his run. "A perfect guy, perfect athlete. He was really, really friendly. Nobody remembers something bad from him. He was a really, really good person. Everybody remembers him so good."
Abramashvili vividly remembers the last night they spent together in Vancouver. Since they participated in separate sports, their paths rarely crossed in the winter. So when they reunited at their Olympic accommodation, they hung out until around 11 p.m. Abramashvili said his luger friend even showed him a video of the course he was about to run.