Thursday, February 16, 2006

Olympic-calibre sportsmanship

From Wednesday's Ottawa Citizen:
In an act of pure sportsmanship, the head of the top cross-country ski team in the world sacrificed an Olympic medal for his own country by handing Canadian skier Sara Renner a pole after hers broke during a race yesterday.

The move by Bjornar Hakensmoen, the chief of the Norwegian cross-country ski federation, meant that Ms. Renner and Beckie Scott were able to keep up in the women's team sprint and capture the silver, while the Norwegians came in fourth.
The Canadian team was in second place when Ms. Renner's pole broke. The race was a relay where one skier does a 1.1-kilometre loop, then tags their partner, who races the same loop. They repeat the process three times.

Ms. Renner was skiing her third lap. When the pole broke, two other skiers quickly passed her:
"I don't even know what happened," a grinning Renner of Canmore, Alta., said after earning Canada's third medal of the Games.

"I just knew that all of a sudden I was kind of paddling with one arm.

"I didn't panic. I think a Norwegian gave me a new pole. It was a man's pole and it was really long. I was able to make it without losing too much time. It's not the best thing to happen, but at the same time, you can't give up."
Returning to the first article:
Over the remaining 400 metres of the lap, Ms. Renner managed to almost catch up to her Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian peers. By the time she tagged Ms. Scott, 31, of Vermilion, Alta., the Canadians were only two seconds behind third-place Norway with two exchanges remaining.

Without receiving the pole from Mr. Hakensmoen, Ms. Renner would have laboured into the exchange area, and Ms. Scott would have had a Herculean task to catch the top three skiers.
Mr. Hakensmoen made light of his decision:
"This is a small, small thing," he said, humbly. "Hopefully, she's happy."

… "It's for the good of the sport. We need to help each other.

"We have a policy in the Norwegian cross-country ski program that, if a skier from another country needs equipment, we have to help. … It doesn't matter (that Norway finished fourth). We need to compete on a fair course. The skiers need two skis and two poles and that must be the right way."
Good for him, being modest about it. But it was an olympic-calibre act of sportsmanship.


At 9:07 AM, February 17, 2006, Anonymous J said...

Whoa...that's cool. What a guy.

At 2:55 PM, February 17, 2006, Blogger LoryKC said...

This man understands the true spirit of the games.

At 3:53 PM, February 17, 2006, Blogger Bill said...

Right on Norway ! I hope Renner says thanks?

At 4:30 PM, February 17, 2006, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

• Lory:
That's exactly it. Here's a man who would rather lose fairly than win unfairly. Just the opposite of athletes or countries who use steroids to gain an unfair advantage. How can you feel proud to have won by cheating?

• Bill:
I assume she said thanks, once she understood who had given her the ski pole. In the quote, she's saying, "I think it was a Norwegian." But that was just after the race ended.

At 8:43 PM, February 17, 2006, Blogger 49erDweet said...

Great story. Good Norski! The right stuff! Things like this make sports seem worthwhile, again.

The NBA and MLB notwithstanding, maybe there is hope for true sports lovers somewhere.

Sure hope so.

BTW, do not personally watch the Olympics on TV anymore due to the 'tape delay' issue. Just surf about them on the net, etc., and enjoy bits and pieces like this.


At 10:08 AM, February 18, 2006, Blogger Heather said...

The spirit of sportsmanship lives...just when I thought the olympis were just another capitalist marketing machine...


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