American Snowboarder Helped Russia Win Olympic Medal Count

Vic WildSome of Russia’s highest profile athletes stumbled on the world stage at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, but the host country still came away winning the overall medal count — and an American-born snowboarder might have had a hand in helping.

Vic Wild won two gold medals at the Sochi games — both for Russia — and became the first snowboarder in Olympic history to win two medals in the same games, one in the parallel slalom race and one in the parallel giant slalom. How Wild ended up competing for Russia is a story of its own.

When the United States Ski and Snowboard Association dissolved its already-underfunded alpine snowboarding program after the Vancouver Games, Wild was left with a choice: end his career or defect. Wild married Russian snowboarder Alena Zavarzina in 2011 and applied for citizenship in her country. The biggest perk for Wild was gaining the support of an Olympic organizing committee that valued alpine snowboarding.

“I would not have snowboarded for the United States,” Wild said, via Yahoo! Sports. “I was done snowboarding. I would have moved on. I would have gone to college. And I would have had a great life. I had another option. The only option to snowboard was to go to Russia and snowboard. I wanted to continue snowboarding, to see how good I can be. I wanted to know I gave it everything I had.”

In the Sochi games, Wild saw how good he could be. Were he still competing for the U.S., Wild would be the most decorated American Olympian at the Sochi Games.

Photo via Twitter/@GovernmentRF

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