Canada remembers Norwegian ‘hero’

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Amidst all the revelry of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, newspaper Aftenposten reports that Canadian fans haven’t forgotten a Norwegian skiing coach who came to the aid of one of their own athletes at the last Olympics in Torino.

Sara Renner lost one of her poles during an Olympic relay and Bjørnar Håkensmoen happened to be nearby. He impulsively handed her a new pole, and she went on to win a silver medal.

Håkensmoen’s good deed got surprisingly little press coverage back home in Norway, but the Canadians went wild, praising his sportsmanship, inviting him and his family for a long vacation in Canada, and even sending him enormous quantities of maple syrup.
Aftenpostenreports that he’s still on guest lists for receptions at the Canadian Embassy in Oslo and now he’s been featured in an advertisement by Olympic sponsor Visa as being part of one of “the great Olympic moments” for Canadians. “He will always be my friend,” Renner told Aftenposten.

Håkensmoen himself continues to claims that “I only did what was completely natural for me. As a ski coach I’ve handed over lots of ski poles, but that particular pole had greater consequences than I could ever dream of.” The Canadians, it’s clear, remain grateful.
(Written February 19, 2010)