- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Minnesota cross-country ski coach is receiving praise after he handed a spare pole to an opposing skier who had just broken his as the two teams battled it out for the remaining spot for the state meet.

During the section race Feb. 1 at Wirth Park in Minneapolis, St. Louis Park skier Ben Chong hit a patch of ice and crashed, breaking his ski pole. Just when it seemed like the senior’s chances of helping his team qualify for the state meet had been jeopardized, an assistant Nordic ski coach at Robbinsdale Armstrong High School in Plymouth handed him a spare ski pole.

Although coach Doug Hubred’s noble gesture ultimately cost his team a spot in the state meet Thursday in Biwabik, he told the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/20sWavD ) that he stands by his decision to help an athlete in need.

“It was the right thing to do for a racer,” Hubred said. “I wanted our kids to win not by a technicality but by their performance. . So no, I don’t regret it.”

St. Louis Park won second place, securing a spot in the state meet, while Armstrong finished two points behind in third place.

In a thank-you note posted on the Minnesota State High School League’s Facebook page, Chong and his parents praised Hubred for choosing to “extend kindness to a kid who at the moment needed a helping hand” when he could’ve watched idly like everyone else and solidified his team’s advance to state.

“I really think this coach is a hero,” said the skier’s dad, Alex Chong. “He was just a true gentleman. He saw a kid fall, and I think he could feel that pain. He just wanted to do the right thing. We need more heroes like that.”

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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