February 19

U.S. expat Wild wins gold for Russia in parallel giant slalom

Wild’s wife won bronze for the host team in the women’s event.

By Will Graves
Ap Sports Writer

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia – Vic Wild and wife Alena Zavarzina have some new jewelry to go with their wedding rings: Olympic medals.

click image to enlarge

Russia’s Vic Wild, left, celebrates after winning the gold medal in the men’s snowboard parallel giant slalom final, with his wife and bronze medalist in the women’s snowboard parallel giant slalom final, Russia’s Alena Zavarzina, at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Associated Press

Wild rolled to victory in men’s snowboarding parallel giant slalom on Wednesday, ripping past Nevin Galmarini in the second run of the finals to win gold for his adopted country of Russia. Zan Kosir of Slovenia took the bronze.

Wild’s triumph came just minutes after his wife raced to bronze in the women’s event.

Patrizia Kummer gave Switzerland its sixth gold medal in Sochi when Japan’s Tomoka Takeuchi lost an edge halfway through the second run of the women’s final.

Zavarzina had little trouble in the consolation round, beating Ina Meschik of Austria by nearly a second for bronze.

Zavarzina sprinted to embrace her husband after he captured gold while a large, heavily pro-Russian crowd waved flags and roared its appreciation. After the flower ceremony, Wild and his wife stood side by side holding a massive Russian flag and drinking in the moment.

It capped a career revival for Wild, who grew up in White Salmon, Wash., but applied for Russian citizenship after marrying Zavarzina in 2011. He joined the Russian snowboarding team and praised his new country for its investment in the sport that is snowboarding’s answer to Alpine skiing.

Wild has repaid his new home in full. The 27-year-old placed third at last year’s world championships and was easily the best on a challenging day at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

After weeks of warm sunshine, a front that moved through Tuesday dumped a fresh batch of snow. Officials tried to protect the course, but it was a bit of a hard mess in which racers struggled with their lines as they rolled from gate to gate.

Wild had his moments, too. He nearly washed out twice during the first finals run, barely holding on after it appeared his board was ready to tip over. Moving from the blue course to the seemingly faster red course for the second run, he overcame the 0.54-second deficit he faced with relative ease.

He thrust his arms skyward in victory, leading to the unusual sight of an American born near the end of the Cold War being showered with adoration from a highly partisan home crowd of Russian fans.

Kummer narrowly edged Zavarzina in the semifinals of the women’s event and was in the clear when Takeuchi lost control in the finals.

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