Posted February 11, 2014

Canadian Coach Lends Ski to Russian Cross Country Skier So He Can Finish His Run

News

You know that “Olympic spirit” thing we always hear network analysts drone on about?

Well, apparently it’s a very real thing, and we got to see it at its very best during a cross-country ski sprint in Sochi on Tuesday.

Russian skier Anton Gafarov was considered an early medal favorite coming into the race, but struggled considerably after breaking a ski. As described by the Toronto Star:

He’d crashed on a quick downhill corner and broken a ski. Then he’d crashed again. A long, thin layer of P-Tex had been skinned off his ski. It was now wrapped around his foot like a snare. Gafarov was not ‘skiing’ to the finish. He was dragging himself.

But just as it appeared Gafarov — who was then minutes behind the pack in a race typically decided by fractions of a second — would be forced to throw in the towel, Team Canada cross-country skiing coach Justin Wadsworth decided to take action.

“I wanted him to have dignity as he crossed the finish line,” said Wadsworth after the fact.

This was a fitting way for the Canadian Olympic team to pay it forward, in a manner of speaking. During a cross-country relay race at the 2006 games in Torino, Canadian Olympian Sara Renner snapped a pole and was struggling to finish her leg of the race. Similar to Gafarov, Renner was helped by a coach from a rival country, Norwegian cross-country skiing director Bjornar Hakensmoen, who handed her a new pole. The Canadian team would go on to earn a silver in the race. Norway finished fourth. And another indisputable piece of evidence was added to the argument that the Olympic spirit is a very real phenomenon.

In the case of Wadsworth, the importance of competing at the Games is certainly not lost on the coach, who represented the United States at three Winter Olympics.

Here is a photo of Wadsworth from 2000, celebrating a gold medal in the men’s cross-country relay at the 2000 Winter Goodwill Games in Lake Placid:

via Getty Images

via Getty Images

Wadsworth deserves the highest of accolades for doing his part to help a competitor from a different country get to experience the same joy.

[H/T CBC]

27 comments
kenc29
kenc29

Congrats for sportsmanship, but in x-country skiing the coaches routinely stand alongside the course with ski poles ready to hand to skiers who break or lose one in the race. A ski is more than a ski pole, but replacing equipment is already part of their normal routine.

closetjaysfan
closetjaysfan

The article references the heroics of Bjornar Hakensmoen who provided Sara Renner with a pole in Turin.  That incident occurred during the team sprint.  Sara Renner (who is mentioned) and Beckie Scott made up that team.  Beckie Scott is married to Justin Wadsworth.  Not only is the spirit of competition on display, but some karma is being paid forward.

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

Maybe he was hoping by giving up a ski he could get exclusive rights to a solo toilet........surely I jest - in all seriousness this is what the olympics is truly about. Camaraderie between all nations. The medals are secondary to the spirit of the games.

RoyceEdwards
RoyceEdwards

What a "class act" for both the coach who offered the ski, and the athlete who accepted it.  I'm guessing whatever decision was made regarding the ski, mother russia might object to.  Still, let's hope that this is just viewed as what it was, two Olympians who hold the spirit of the competition close to their hearts.


Perhaps this will set a positive example for diplomats who must represent their countries in future negotiations.

Craig
Craig

It's fine to acknowledge what team/country he is from, but the real point is that one human being did the right thing for another human being...and did it without seeking monetary gain.  Let's celebrate THAT because it's pretty rare these days.  Sad, but true.

BruceAbernethy
BruceAbernethy

Justin Wadsworth is a hero in Bend, OR where he won the local Pole, Pedal, Paddle race an astounding 8 times in a row!  Class and quality all the way - and that goes for his gold medal winning wife, Beckie Scott, too!  You are both missed, but are glad you are doing well in Canada!

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

And after hearing about  this, obama said that would have been just like my son.......one who isn't a thug or even dead

Sara3
Sara3

People Still ask me why I came to Canada .... Well here is a perfect example. Lots of Love from Calgary :) 

MikeHarrison
MikeHarrison

It's these types of stories that should get way more coverage at the games, then giving coverage to a pompous ego driven athlete who didn't medal after screwing over a fellow athlete by pulling out after getting to the games

CorD
CorD

Dude... That was a competing country's coach... Not the Russian coach that helped out... Big difference...

kj4027
kj4027

@Craig  The "Canadian" coach that helped the Russian skier is an American skier that competed in 3 Olympics and won Gold in the same event.

CorD
CorD

Dude...really? So classless...

Ebullient
Ebullient

@WHO*IS*ESPN  And this year's gold medal for most irrelevant but still needlessly mean-spirited comment goes to you!!!

BeholdTheWolverine
BeholdTheWolverine

@Sara3  You do understand it was a Yank that gave him the ski?  He moved to Canada after 3 Olympics as an American skier, and coaches the Canadian team.

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@MikeHarrison So your way of giving props to this story is by bringing up a story that you don't want covered?   Gotta love that logic.

SLM
SLM

@BeholdTheWolverine @Sara3  In case you missed it Wolverine, I think she's drawing a parallel between both of them coming to Canada.  The fact he's American gives us the chance to celebrate both countries.

Ryan19
Ryan19

@WilliamCross  He screwed over Brandon Davis.  He would have been the guy to replace Shaun if White didn't wait until the last minute to pull out of the slopestyle event.  

JoeCabot
JoeCabot

@BeholdTheWolverine One of the simple, overlooked pleasures of internet forums is the ability of some folks to turn just about anything into an argument.  Brilliant!  Absolutely brilliant!

BeholdTheWolverine
BeholdTheWolverine

@SLM @BeholdTheWolverine @Sara3  Sorry...don't get the point.  Why are we celebrating Canada?  Because it employs a Yank as a ski coach?  Is that what gave him, and by parallel her, Olympic spirit?  It seems to me that Wadworth got his Olympic spirit competing in the Olympics...multiple times, as an American.  How, exactly, is this a perfect example of why she (or he, or anybody) moved to Canada?


I wasn't trying to troll.  But given the facts I fail to see what country of residence, when its only a recent change, has to do with anything.