Olympics: Canadian hailed for helping Russian skier finish

SOCHI, Russia - A Canadian coach was applauded Wednesday for showing the true spirit of the Olympics when he helped a Russian cross country skier to finish after breaking a ski in a crash.

Russia's Anton Gafarov was competing in the semi-finals of the men's sprint on Tuesday when he fell on a high speed hairpin bend that caused problems throughout the competition.

His left ski badly damaged, Gafarov still tried to limp to the finish but then the ski disintegrated entirely.

With Gafarov facing the prospect of skiing on one leg to the end, a Canadian coach rushed to his aid and gave him a ski which Gafarov used to ski to the finish several minutes behind the leaders.

"It is entirely to be applauded, and that's one of the things why we all love the Olympics," said International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams.

"As well as being an amazing elite sport, there is something special as well, there are values underlying it as well," he added.

Sochi 2014 spokeswoman Alexandra Kosterina added: "It is just the essence of the Olympic Games, the Olympic spirit, in its core. So I think that is great."

The coach was named as Canadian cross country ski coach Justin Wadsworth.

"It was like watching an animal stuck in a trap. You can't just sit there and do nothing about it," Wadsworth was quoted as saying by the Toronto Star.

Quite why no Russian coach was on hand to help the unfortunate Gafarov - and that it needed a foreigner to come to his rescue - remains a mystery.

"I just had one aim - to get to the end," Gafarov told Russian sports website sportsdaily.ru. "Some foreigner then gave me skis from a different firm."

Gafarov finished the race to huge cheers from Russian supporters but visibly upset after missing out on his chance for a place in the final.

He blasted the track as "unfit for the Olympics", saying he had fallen as his ski had ploughed into a clump of snow that had not been removed.