Norwegian rewarded for Olympic sportsmanship

Canadians have presented former Norwegian cross-country coach Bjornar Haakensmoen with more than five tons of maple syrup in recognition of his pole pass to Canadian Sara Renner at the Torino Games.

Canadians have found a sweet way to reward a Norwegian ski coach who helped an Albertan Olympian during a crucial moment at the Torino Games.

Bjornar Haakensmoen was presented with more than five tons of Canadian maple syrup in Oslo Wednesday for his act of sportsmanship at the Olympics in February.

The Norwegian cross-country coach received the gift as a token of appreciation for handing a spare ski pole to Sara Renner after the Canadian skier broke hers midway through the team sprint event.

Renner and Canadian teammate Beckie Scott went on to win a silver medal while the Norwegians placed fourth.

Haakensmoen's gesture struck a chord with many Candians. In the days following the pole pass, he was showered with thank-you notes and gifts ranging from wine and chocolate to hotel accomodation in Banff, Alta. But nothing to this point has stacked up to the 7,400 cans of maple syrup that recently rolled into Oslo.

The syrup was donated by fans across Canada as part of a drive called Project Maple Syrup.

The Norwegian and Canadian governments agreed to waive any import duties so the syrup wouldn't be too expensive for Haakensmoen to accept.

Haakensmoen, 37, said he was overwhelmed by the positive reaction by Canadians.

"When you get this kind of response it is, well, just enormous," said Haakensmoen.

So, does Haakensmoen even like maple syrup?

"It's sweet, and a little unusual," he said, admitting he only recently tried syrup for the first time. "We might have it from time to time, but not five times a day."

Haakensmoen resigned as sports director for Norwegian skiers after the Torino Games.

with files from Canadian Press