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PHOTOS: Russian skier breaks ski, helped by Canadian coach to finish

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Gafarov fell with a broken ski in the semifinal. (Getty Images)
Gafarov fell with a broken ski in the semifinal. (Getty Images)

This is what the Olympic Spirit is all about.

Tuesday was the day for the men's and women's cross-country free sprints. If you aren't familiar, it's cross-country skiing's version of the 100 meter dash, a full sprint that takes three-plus minutes to compete. Any one mistake or fall and you're pretty much done.

Such was the case for Russian Anton Gafarov in the men's semifinal. At that point there are groups of six in heats with the top two finishers advancing and then two lucky losers from the two heats combined to make the final six. Gafarov was already experiencing some issues with the crowd watching him intently and was behind. That's when he fell while going down a slope and broke a ski.

Because nobody wants to not finish a race, especially in the Olympics, Gafarov got up and kept going on one ski. Seconds later, a coach came running onto the course to give Gafarov a new ski and get him on his way to a last-place finish in the semis. The coach? Justin Wadsworth from Canada.

With the help of Wadsworth, Gafarov was able to finish the race to a great applause from the Russian fans, one which he showed his appreciation for.

Gafarov acknowledges the crowd as he crosses the finish. (Getty Images)
Gafarov acknowledges the crowd as he crosses the finish. (Getty Images)

Speaking to the Toronto Star, Wadsworth, who is a three-time Olympian himself, couldn't help but to help.

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.

Wadsworth added: "I wanted him to have dignity as he crossed the finish line."

It's heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. The Olympics, you have to love them.

As for the results of the races, Norway's Ola Vigen Hattestad won the gold over Sweden's Teodor Peterson and Emil Joensson after a big crash in the final.

 
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