Anton Gafarov was having a tough time on Tuesday.
Having reached the semifinals of the men's cross-country sprint, the 27-year-old Russian fell twice and then broke one of his skis. It looked like he'd have to walk off the course instead of crossing the finish line.
But enter Justin Wadsworth, a former American Olympian who's coaching the Canadian team in Sochi. With a competitor struggling, Wadsworth ran out to Gafarov and hooked him up with an extra ski. Though his run took almost as twice as long as his qualifying and quarterfinal run, Gafarov was able to finish the race.
Wadsworth, who competed for the United States in Lillehammer, Nagano and Salt Lake City, is no stranger to people helping people on the cross-country circuit. He's married to Canadian Beckie Scott, whose relay partner Sara Renner was lent a ski pole by Norwegian coach Bjornar Haakensmoen in the 2006 Turin Games. The act of generosity helped Scott and Renner clinch a silver medal while a pair of Norwegian skiers took fourth.
Scott has said that helping out fellow competitors is the rule and not the exception in cross-country.
"Had it been anybody else on the course, they would have done the same thing," Scott said in 2012. "It just happened that it was a Norwegian coach at that moment who had a pole for Sara.
"If someone hadn't done it, then that would have been exceptional. It's really more common to give people poles and help them out than it is to do nothing."
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