Justin Wadsworth, Canadian cross-country ski coach, has been lauded for helping Russia’s Anton Gafarov with a broken ski.
Wadsworth was at the finish line of the cross-country event when he saw Gafarov, an early medal favorite, climb over a hill.
Gafarov had crashed on a downhill corner and broken a ski, only to crash again and have the ski wrapped around his foot like a snare. The only problem was, he didn’t have another one.
Wadsworth looked around but no one was moving, including the Russian coaches. So he grabbed a ski and ran over to Gafarov, kneeled beside him, and replaced the broken equipment.
“It was like watching an animal stuck in a trap. You can’t just sit there and do nothing about it,” Wadsworth said later, reported the Toronto Star.
By that point, Gafarov was minutes behind the pack in a race typically decided by tenths-of-a-second.
“I wanted him to have dignity as he crossed the finish line,” Wadsworth, a three-time Olympian, said.
The Star notes that the moment can be compared to when Norwegian official Bjornar Hakensmoen tossed Canada’s Sara Renner his own pole after she lost hers in Torino in 2006.
“This competition, and all competitions, it should be a fight. It should not be decided by skis,” he later said, even though Renner won silver and Norway finished fourth.
About Wadsworth’s actions on an otherwise miserable day after his own athletes were already eliminated, Cathal Kelly wrote: “That’s us, Canada. Friends and fighters. For one magical day, more resonantly than ever before, the world was reminded of both.”