Traitor! US-born snowboarder Vic Wild notched his second gold medal at the Winter Olympics on Feb. 22. Unfortunately, he was competing for Russia, the native country of his snowboarder wife, Alena Zavarzina.
As of Feb. 22, the United States have claimed 27 medals at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but they could have had 29. That’s because American snowboarder Vic Wild has now won two gold medals after marrying Russian snowboarder Alena Zavarzina and deciding to follow her to the Russian Olympic squad in 2011.
Vic Wild: USA Native Wins Gold For Russia
Vic narrowly edged out Zan Kosir of Slovenia by 0.11 seconds in the parallel slalom final. It was his second gold of the Olympics, after he won the parallel giant slalom on Feb. 19.
That first gold medal was made even more exciting because his wife Alena won bronze in her event — the women’s parallel giant slalom — just minutes before him.
“It’s incredible to win it along with Alena,” Vic told reporters after his first win. “For us to both have success on the same day is truly incredible.”
Vic Wild: Why He Defected To Russia
Although it probably hasn’t been incredible to watch for the United States. The snowboarder decided to marry Alena — who he’s dated since 2009 — and defect to Russia with her in 2011, because he felt that the U.S. snowboarding program was underfunded and unsupportive. “Russia is the country that’s given me the opportunity to win a medal,” Vic said. “If I was still riding for the USA, I’d be back home with perhaps some mediocre job doing something mediocre.”
And though Vic’s defection from the U.S. to one of their biggest rivals, Russia, may seem traitorous, he claims that those close to him understand that it was a move he had to make for his career, and for his marriage.
“They’ve seen me at my lows, they know it was very important for me — my entire life — that I make this switch and that I give it one more shot,” Vic explained. “If I hadn’t done this, I think I’d always be wondering, ‘What if?’ You don’t want to live your life like that.”
Well, Vic, we’ll swallow our pride and say congratulations. Enjoy those Russian winters!
— Andrew Gruttadaro