Vancouver Sun

Fa­mous ski pole has been re­cy­cled

Re­mem­ber­ing a Nor­we­gian’s gen­eros­ity

- — Dan Barnes Sports · Extreme Sports · Canmore · Turin · Italy · Oslo · Calgary · Sara Renner

That ski pole has been made into the per­fect length for a six-year-old. It’s be­ing used on fam­ily ad­ven­tures. It’s been cut down.

Sara Ren­ner — the for­mer Olympic cross-coun­try skier, ra­bid re­cy­cler, proud par­ent and Can­more, Alta., innkeeper — has fi­nally an­swered one of win­ter sport’s most en­dur­ing ques­tions.

“That ski pole has been made into the per­fect length for a six-year-old. It’s be­ing used on fam­ily ad­ven­tures. It’s been cut down,” she said.

Ren­ner’s el­dest daugh­ter, Aria, used the pole for years, then handed it off to mid­dle daugh­ter Gabby, who will al­most cer­tainly pass it on to four-year-old Maya.

“I’m an avid re­cy­cler, so I felt good about it,” Ren­ner said.

“At some point I would like to make a com­mu­nity ski tree where every­one donates one bro­ken ski to a Christ­mas tree and the star at the top will be ski poles of sig­nif­i­cance. So I do have a plan for that ski pole.”

That ski pole is the one Ren­ner used, on an emer­gency ba­sis, to win a sil­ver medal in the team sprint with fel­low Cana­dian Beckie Scott at the 2006 Win­ter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

That ski pole came from Nor­we­gian head coach Bjornar Haak­ens­moen. Ren­ner needed it be­cause hers broke dur­ing the third lap of the six-lap race.

“That was strange. I had never bro­ken a ski pole be­fore. Or since,” said Ren­ner, who still skis with Scott in Can­more, but only recre­ation­ally.

“I hon­estly do not know how that hap­pened. In the men’s race that fol­lowed us, the Ital­ians broke a pole and fin­ished fourth. And a Swedish coach gave them a re­place­ment. So it is com­mon in our sport.”

Both the break­ing and the do­nat­ing. That’s why Haak­ens­moen down­played the gen­er­ous act of sports­man­ship as a no-brainer.

Ren­ner thanked him with a bot­tle of Barolo. Cana­di­ans shipped him best wishes and tons of maple syrup. The two ac­ci­den­tal stars ate pan­cakes to­gether in Oslo shortly af­ter the Games and led the 2006 Cal­gary Stam­pede pa­rade on horse­back.

“He was hi­lar­i­ous be­cause he was sure he could to­tally pull it off in his Ox­fords, that he didn’t need a pair of cow­boy boots,” Ren­ner said.

“I was like, ‘Dude, if some­one is of­fer­ing to kit you out at the Cal­gary Stam­pede, you say yes.’ ”

And when some­body breaks a pole, you of­fer up yours as a re­place­ment.

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