WHISTLER, British Columbia - Everyone made it down safely.
For luge, that meant progress, healing and normalcy.
Cowbells clanged, fans with painted faces waved flags, and even IOC president Jacques Rogge looked on as the celebration of this hyper-speedy sport resumed one day after tragedy rocked the sliding community and threatened to spoil the spirit of the Vancouver Games before they opened.
Germany's Felix Loch was the leader after the first two heats of men's singles were completed Saturday night without major incident on a track made shorter, slower and safer in the wake of Nodar Kumaritashvili's death during a training run the day before.
"Life will go on," said U.S. Olympic rookie Chris Mazdzer of Saranac Lake, N.Y. "And everyone's classifying this sport as dangerous. It's so unfortunate what happened. Every track in the world, there's always spots where it can happen. This is just the first time that it actually has. It's tragic, but everyone coming and showing up here, it builds you up as a slider."
Germany's David Moeller was second, followed by Italy's Armin Zoeggeler, the two-time defending Olympic champ. American Tony Benshoof was seventh heading into Sunday's final two runs.
Russia's Albert Demtschenko, who won silver four years ago in Turin, was fourth and conceded he won't leave with Canadian gold.
"I am too late," he said, dismissively waving his right hand. "It is over."
There was only one fearful moment, when Swiss rider Stefan Hoehener nearly flipped exiting a turn. But he somehow recovered, scrambled back aboard after a long skid and finished his second run, drawing a huge roar from the packed grandstand.
The day ended festively. Hours earlier, that hardly seemed possible.
As the morning sun played peek-a-boo above Blackcomb Mountain, athletes arrived to find a different track than the one they left Friday following Kumaritashvili's crash.
During the night, workers constructed a wooden wall to cover the row of steel beams that he hit at nearly 90 mph. Others were wrapped in padding.
To slow speeds, officials changed course and shortened the run, decreeing that men would go from the women's start, and the women and doubles from the juniors' start. Also, the contour of the final, sweeping turn had been changed to prevent sleds from drifting too high onto the curved walls.
Then the track was reopened for training.
Someone had to be first. It was Benshoof.
The top U.S. medal hope in men's luge, he drew a breath of mountain air, secured the visor over his face and dropped down this elevator shaft of ice not knowing what to expect.
He glided to the bottom, slower but safer.
"Unfortunately, there was a terrible tragedy," said Benshoof, a three-time Olympian competing with at least three herniated discs, plus an aching foot from a brush with the Whistler track wall. "But at the end of the day we have a competition to go through and I tried to put it all out of my head."
That was almost impossible.