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Now, that's friendly competition: 3 skiers at N.L. Winter Games link arms and finish together

Juliette Colbourne (l-r), Georgia Wiseman and Jocelyn Coates are friends and competing athletes who decided to cross the finish line together during Tuesday's 5-kilolmetre cross country ski race. (Cherie Wheeler/CBC - image credit)
Juliette Colbourne (l-r), Georgia Wiseman and Jocelyn Coates are friends and competing athletes who decided to cross the finish line together during Tuesday's 5-kilolmetre cross country ski race. (Cherie Wheeler/CBC - image credit)
Juliette Colbourne (l-r), Georgia Wiseman and Jocelyn Coates are friends and competing athletes who decided to cross the finish line together during Tuesday's 5-kilolmetre cross country ski race.
Juliette Colbourne (l-r), Georgia Wiseman and Jocelyn Coates are friends and competing athletes who decided to cross the finish line together during Tuesday's 5-kilolmetre cross country ski race.

From left, Juliette Colbourne, Georgia Wiseman and Jocelyn Coates are friends and competing athletes who decided to cross the finish line together during Tuesday's five-kilometre cross-country ski race. (Cherie Wheeler/CBC)

Three skiers on two cross-country-skiing teams at the Newfoundland and Labrador Games decided they're better friends than competitors — so they linked arms and crossed the finish line together.

During Tuesday's five-kilometre cross-country race at Gander's Airport Nordic Ski Club, friends Juliette Colbourne and Georgia Wiseman of Team Western and Jocelyn Coates of Team Eastern found themselves well out in front of the pack and hatched a plan.

"We were far enough ahead, we just kind of wanted to go in together," said Wiseman, laughing.

As friends, said Colbourne, they really didn't want to compete against one another.

"If we had to, we would have," Colbourne told CBC News. "[But] it would be more fun to just come in together."

"We skied the whole thing together, so it just seemed right that we finished together as well," added Coates.

According to Games officials, the electronic ankle tags recorded all three athletes crossing the finish line at 17 minutes and 43.3 seconds. Officials had to use video replay to determine who would receive what medal. Ultimately, Coates was awarded gold, Wiseman silver and Colbourne bronze.

Despite the ranking, Wiseman said, "We know we all got first."

Coates said they didn't really care about the outcome — what was important to them was finishing together.

"We're really close friends. I think, and just being able to share something like that together, like no matter who gets what medal, yeah, it's nice," said Coates.

Sportsmanship important

While they were on two different teams for the N.L. Winter Games, they have been on teams together before, said Coates. And while there's a lot of competition in cross-country skiing, she said, people crossing the finish line together on purpose isn't unheard of. Wiseman said three of them have also finished together in a marathon.

Coates said their coaches also seemed to approve of their decision to cross the finish line together, explaining that sportsmanship and friendly competition is an important part of the sport.

Colbourne said she's going to walk away from this year's N.L. Games feeling happy about the experience.

"It's going to be really good," she said, "I had a lot of fun and the races were really fun."

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