Top Five Stories of Happiness and Community at the Winter Games

February 19, 2014 Caitlin Hotchkiss

From now until the last fireworks light up Sochi’s sky on February 23, G Adventures will offer up the best original and curated content from around the web. Want to follow along? We’ll share our take on Sochi 2014 through through the @gadventures handle, on Facebook—and right here on the Looptail. Check out all of our Winter Games–related articles here. This is your planet—see it at play.

Now that we’re on our way to the end of the Winter Games in Sochi, it’s a good time to look back and reflect on some of the more enduring human stories of the past almost-two weeks. Beyond the competitive aspect, the Games are a tribute to humanity and sportsmanship, and there are more than a few feel-good stories that speak to that. In no particular order, here’s five that have caught our eye:

1. Foreign aid from Canada

When Russia’s Anton Gafarov suffered numerous falls and broke one of his skis during the men’s cross-country ski competition, it was a Canadian coach to the rescue. Justin Wadsworth, the head coach for Canada’s team, rushed onto the course and replaced Gafarov’s broken left ski, thus allowing the athlete to finish the race. When asked why he would help a rival when even Russia’s own coaches didn’t come to Gafarov’s aid, Wadsworth simply replied, “It was about giving Gafarov some dignity so he didn’t have to walk to the finish area.” Now that’s some sporting spirit.

Wadsworth to the rescue! Photo by A. Rifkin.

Wadsworth to the rescue! Photo by A. Rifkin.

2. Sportsmanship on the ski trail.

Maybe it’s the patience and perseverance the sport requires, but it seems like cross-country skiing has been a hotbed for warm fuzzies. In this case, it was Swiss skier Dario Cologna who came in first place in men’s cross-country skiing – after a race that nearly took him 40 minutes to complete – yet stuck around at the finish line to shake hands with the last-place competitor, Roberto Carcelen of Peru. This was Carcelen’s first Winter Games, and he was competing with broken ribs on top of that. It was a touching show of sportsmanship between these athletes.

Sportsmanship defined: Dario Cologna. Photo by Wikimedia CH.

Sportsmanship defined: Dario Cologna. Photo by Wikimedia CH.

3. Dog’s best friend.

Most of us are familiar with the sad news that a number of Sochi’s stray dogs have been rounded up and euthanized. Given that half of Sochi’s population seems to consist of stray dogs (apparently they’re everywhere), this issue has been affecting animal lovers worldwide, and a number of American athletes are doing something about it. Gus Kenworthy, a freestyle skier for the USA, not only won a silver medal in his competition but also announced that he was adopting a family of stray puppies he found near a media center for the Games. He’s staying in Sochi a little longer so he can gain clearance to bring the adorable pups home to Colorado with him. Check out this pic from his Instagram and prepare to smile.

4. A silver-worthy substitution

This has been a pretty popular feel-good story here in Canada, and for good reason. Denny Morrison, a speed skater from British Columbia, failed to qualify for the 1,000-metre race – almost unthinkable given that he was considered one of Canada’s best hopes for a medal. Instead, one of his teammates, Gilmore Junio, offered to give up his spot on the team so Morrison could have a shot. And take it he did – all the way to the podium for silver. Junio’s sacrifice so Morrison could have the chance to win a medal was described by Junio himself as “like a movie or a fairy tale,” and it’s that kind of heart-warming story that we love to see out of the Games.

5. The guy who gets to wear this hat.

Photo via Imgur.

Photo via Imgur.

Massive props to you, Russia.

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