April 5, 2006

Canada gives maple syrup in thanks

By Alister Doyle

OSLO (Reuters) - Grateful Canadians have given five tonnes
of maple syrup to a Norwegian coach as thanks for helping
cross-country skier Sara Renner win an Olympic silver medal
after her pole broke during the women's team sprint race.

Bjoernar Haakonsmoen became a hero in Canada for handing
Renner a new pole at the Turin Games on February 14, especially
because the Norwegian team finished fourth.

"It was a reflex action. I didn't even think about what I
was doing," Haakonsmoen told Reuters on Wednesday after a
ceremony at the Canadian embassy in Oslo to hand over a
truckload of 7,400 cans of maple syrup donated as sugary

"I like maple syrup, but not in these quantities,"
Haakonsmoen said, adding he would keep a few cans.

"Much of the news we read is bleak...but your action
embodied the spirit of the Olympics," Richard Page, one of the
organizers of the drive to collect the cans, told Haakonsmoen.
Many donors wrote messages of thanks on the cans.

Renner and her team mate Beckie Scott won the silver behind
the Swedish team.

Thousands of cans will be handed out to Norwegians around
the country. A Norwegian mobile phone operator also contributed
150,000 Norwegian crowns ($23,320) to Haakonsmoen's favored
anti-cancer charity.