US-born snowboard star wins another Olympic medal for Russian team
Victor Wild added another Olympic medal to his collection by taking bronze for the ROC team in the men’s parallel Giant Slalom on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old had missed out in the semifinals to eventual silver medalist Tim Mastnak of Slovenia, but won his bronze-medal race with Roland Fischnaller of Italy.
Wild got off to a slow start against Fischnaller but turned the race around brilliantly to grab a well-deserved victory at the finish.
The gold was won by Austrian star Benjamin Karl.
The bronze is Wild’s third Olympic medal, as previously he celebrated double success at the 2014 Games in Sochi, triumphing in the men’s parallel Slalom and the parallel Giant Slalom events.
The naturalized Russian represented America until the United States Ski and Snowboard Association shut down its alpine snowboarding program after the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
The snowboarder applied for Russian citizenship after marrying Russian snowboarder Alena Zavarzina in 2011.
His request was satisfied by Russian officials and Wild emerged as something of a cult hero in his new homeland after his contribution to the country’s medal tally in Sochi, where he became the first snowboarder in history to win two medals at the same Olympics.
Unfortunately his love story with Zavarzina didn’t have a happy end, as the couple split last December.
Soon after his Olympic podium finish, Wild announced his retirement, saying his career was ending on a positive note. “It’s difficult to find any words,” Wild told Match TV.
“You know, my Russian isn’t perfect. I want to thank all the people who believed in me. I’ve already said that I’ll stop competing if I win a medal. So, now I have it.”
Wild’s ex-wife Zavarzina congratulated him on his Olympic success, expressing hope that he would be given the honor of bearing the ROC flag at the Olympic closing ceremony.
“In my opinion Vic deserves the right to bear the flag. This will be a nice quote from me, I guess. But I don’t think he will be appointed. I think it’s not important for him right now, this Olympic medal will make him cry for one week,” Zavarzina said.