Fair play on the ski piste
This is everything that's great about the Olympics. Such a great act of Fair Play. In the finals of the men's cross country skiing sprint, Russia's Anton Gafarov crashed but still managed to finish the race thanks to Canadian coach Justin Wadsworth, who ran onto the course to help him. Garafov finished nearly three minutes behind the leaders, but the Russian crowd gave him a standing ovation as he crossed the finish line. Here's how it went down.
Gafarov crashed hard halfway through the race. His left ski was badly damaged.He couldn't take his weight off his broken ski, so he futilely tried to finish the race using only his poles.
A few seconds later, he fell again. This time he broke his shi in half. It looked like thhe'd have to quit therace but then Canadian coach Justin Wadsworth ran out onto thecourse with a replacement ski. He put it on for him.
Gafarov made it to the stretch run, and applauded the crowd and the crowd went nuts when he finished the line.
After his own miserable afternoon in the midst of the greatest 24 hours in our Olympic history, Canadian cross-country ski coach Justin Wadsworth wandered over to the finish line. His own athletes were all eliminated early. He was crestfallen. He wanted to watch the end of the semifinal in the men's free sprint. As he stood there, surrounded by other officials, he spotted Russian Anton Gafarov coming over a rise. Gafarov, an early medal favourite, was struggling miserably.He'd crashed 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. Wadsworth looked around. No one was moving. Everyone just stared, including a group of Russian coaches.
"It was like watching an animal stuck in a trap. You can't just sit there and do nothing about it," Wadsworth said later.
In a race typically decided by tenths-of-a-second, Gafarov was three minutes behind the pack. He was trying to make it the last couple of hundred metres down the 1.7 km course.Wadsworth grabbed a spare ski he'd brought for Canadian racer Alex Harvey and ran onto the track.Gafarov stopped. Wadsworth kneeled beside him. No words passed between them. Gafarov only nodded. Wadsworth pulled off the broken equipment and replaced it. Gafarov set off again.
"I wanted him to have dignity as he crossed the finish line," Wadsworth, a three-time Olympian, said.
That. That right there. That's the Olympics.