Cross-Country

Brandon Hicks - Tuesday Feb. 11, 2014 11:47 ET

Justin Wadsworth, Canada's cross-country ski coach, lends ski to Russian skier

Gives spare ski to Anton Gafarov in sprint semis

Canadian cross-country skiing coach Justin Wadsworth assists Russian skier Anton Gafarov during the men's individual free sprint.
Canadian cross-country skiing coach Justin Wadsworth assists Russian skier Anton Gafarov during the men's individual free sprint on Tuesday at the Sochi Olympics in Russia.
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Justin Wadsworth may be the head coach of the Canadian cross-country team, but that doesn’t mean he won’t help a rival skier in need.

When Russia’s Anton Gafarov crashed and broke a ski during a semifinal heat in the men’s cross-country sprint, Wadsworth was right there to help.

Gafarov was clearly out of the race, but still wanted to finish in front of the home crowd. But his ski was too badly damaged in the crash and he took another tumble into the snow.

That’s when Wadsworth went to help. The Canadian coach ran onto the slope, spare ski in hand, and quickly fastened it to Gafarov’s boot, drawing a cheer from the crowd.

"It's kind of like seeing an animal in a trap," Wadsworth said. "I just couldn't let him sit there." 

Though the Russian was three minutes behind his competitors, he still finished the race thanks to the Canadian coach’s help.

It brought back memories of the 2006 Olympics in Torino, when Norwegian coach Bjornar Haakensmoen helped out Canadian cross-country skier Sara Renner in the team sprint event. Renner broke her ski pole halfway through the race, and Haakensmoen provided her with a new one.

Ironically, the move prevented Norway from winning a medal in the event, as Renner and Beckie Scott won silver, while the Norwegians finished in fourth. As a token of their appreciation, fans across Canada donated five tonnes of maple syrup to Haakensmoen as a thank you gift.

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