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Question: What could possibly be guts-ier than piloting a bobsled down a treacherous track at over 90mph while the whole world watches?

Answer: Not doing it.

What happened today at the Olympics will be talked about during NBC’s broadcast of the Games tonight, lamented on sports-talk radio tomorrow, and debated around water coolers for days to come. Dutch bobsled pilot Edwin van Calker has informed his coach and his team that after watching crash after crash, and crashing himself in practice, he does not have the confidence to pilot his team safely down the track, and pulled his team out of the competition.

It must have been a deeply personal and impossibly difficult decision to make, one that will likely define his legacy in the sport and among his countrymen. Many will be disappointed. Many will call him a coward. But standing at the starting gate of a track that has already killed one athlete during these Games, he’s thinking about his kids, and whether he’ll still be there for them five minutes from now. It’s like that opening scene from Top Gun, where the fighter pilot gets rattled in combat, loses his edge, and knows that he must turn in his wings.

He could have made a different choice. He could have followed the example of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who faced a similar fear, but decided to go for it anyway. It is widely reported that, during a phone call to his father prior to his practice run, Kumaritashvili prophesied that he “would either win or die.” He was right. He never even saw the finish line.

So what are we to make of Mr. van Calker’s decision? Bravery or cowardice? Has he let down his team? His country? Which choice would you make?