Canadian coach Justin Wadsworth comes to aid of Anton Gafarov
Canadian cross-county skiing coach Justin Wadsworth gets the gold medal for sportsmanship after helping a Russian skier who broke one of his skis finish his run at the men’s sprint free semi-finals at the Sochi Olympics Tuesday.
During the race, Russian cross-country skier Anton Gafarov crashed on the course early into the run. As he got up and tried to keep his race going, he, and the quieted crowd realized his left ski was broken. And then he crashed again.
After getting up a second time, a thin layer of P-Tex had been skinned off his ski and it got wrapped around his foot.
Determined to finish the race, Gafarov did his best to limp very slowly on one good ski towards the finish line.
As the skier neared the finish line, Canadian coach Wadsworth noticed the struggling man and sprung into action to help him. Justin Wadsworth grabbed a spare ski belonging to one of his racers, Alex Harvey, and ran onto the track towards Gafarov.
Anton Gafarov stopped skiing as Wadsworth approached. The US-born Canadian coach then knelt down, pulled off the broken equipment and helped the Russian put on a spare ski belonging to Canadian skier Alex Harvey.
This allowed Anton Gafarov to finish the race. It took him twice as long to cross the finish as his opponents, but he got the loudest cheer from the home town crowd.
The crowd also cheered loudly and appreciatively for Justin Wadsworth.
“I wanted him to have dignity as he crossed the finish line”, coach Wadsworth told the Toronto Star’s Cathal Kelly.
This is not the first time a competing coach has assisted a cross-country skier finish a race. In the 2006 Olympics in Turin, the Norwegian coach Bjornar Haakensmoen gave Canadian skier Sara Renner a spare pole after she broke hers during the team sprint race.
Renner and her partner Beckie Scott went on to win the silver medal in the event while the Norwegian team finished fourth. Coach Bjornar Haakensmoen received a number of gifts from admiring fans, including over five tons of Canadian maple syrup.
Justin Wadsworth is married to Canadian Olympic champ Beckie Scott.