TORONTO – In true Olympic spirit, Canada’s head cross-country ski coach Justin Wadsworth rushed to help a Russian skier after the athlete crashed in the semi-final of the men’s freestyle sprint and broke one of his skis.
Cross-country skier Anton Gafarov tumbled on the course for the third time Tuesday as he was heading down the hill toward the finish line. With a new ski in hand, Wadsworth rushed toward the struggling athlete and fixed the new ski to Gafarov’s ski boot.
The crowd burst into cheers as Gafarov finished in a distant last place.
Video of Wadsworth’s act of kindness quickly spread across the Internet with many people around the world praising him for his sportsmanship.
But this could be the ultimate story of “paying it forward.”
During the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino the director of cross-country skiing in Norway, Bjornar Hakensmoen, assisted Canadian cross-country skier Sara Renner when her pole broke during the third lap of a six lap relay. Hakensmoen gave Renner his pole and the Canadians came in a close second behind Sweden (Norway came in fourth).
WATCH: Justin Wadsworth discusses his act of sportsmanship and the good karma he hopes will rub off for Team Canada
Renner’s partner during the competition was Beckie Scott, who just happens to be Wadsworth’s wife.
Wadsworth – a former U.S. cross-country ski team member – was born in La Jolla, California, and trained in Seattle. He was named head coach of the Canadian cross-country ski team in 2010.