An athlete from doping-tainted Russia is behind one of the more heartwarming sportsmanship stories to emerge at the Winter Olympics.
Chris Mazdzer, who won the first singles luge medal in U.S. men’s history by taking silver over the weekend, said a Russian luger offered to lend him his sled in January when Mazdzer was mired in a slump.
“I guess this goes against every U.S.-Russian stereotype ever,” Mazdzer said, according to Reuters.
Mazdzer noted that the luge was state-of-the-art. He said the unnamed competitor didn’t think he was going to the Olympics. But the athlete wanted to see how his sled would fare.
Mazdzer took it for a practice run at an event in Latvia but decided he was too big for it.
“I think what it shows is that we do care about each other and there is this human connection we have that crosses countries, crosses cultures,” Mazdzer told reporters, according to USA Today. “And sport is an amazing way to accomplish that.”
Mazdzer found his groove without the sled, making Team USA history after two 13th place finishes in previous Olympics. But he remembered the gesture.
“That friendship and trust was really moving,” he said
Russia was officially banned from the games for systemic doping. Some of its athletes were later allowed in on the unaffiliated OAR team, Olympic Athletes from Russia, if they could prove they were clean.
Mazdzer said the Russian who made the generous offer competed at the games in Pyeonchang, South Korea, according to The Washington Post. But he declined to reveal the competitor’s name.