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American-turned-Russian Wild captures second gold medal for adoptive country

Russia's Vic Wild reacts during the men's parallel slalom snowboard finals at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Rosa Khutor February 22, 2014.


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Before thunderous applause from Russian fans, Vic Wild, the American-turned-Russian, won his second snowboard gold at Sochi, a victory that pushed his adopted country into tie position with the United States for the medal count lead.

Wild, 27, won his first Sochi gold in parallel giant slalom on Wednesday, the same day that his Russian wife, Alena Zavarzina, took bronze in the women's version of the same event. Their podium finishes made them the second married couples to win medals in an Olympic event.

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He called his second gold medal "beyond believable."

Wild performed with relentless aggression, giving his competitors no chance to overtake him. "Vic is on fire," Canada's Michael Lambert said after losing his heat to Wild. "There's no magic, no cheating. He's just fast."

The silver medal went to Zan Kosir of Slovakia. He won bronze in the parallel giant slalom in Sochi. Bronze went to Benjamin Karl of Austria, who won silver in parallel giant slalom in Vancouver in 2010.

The women's edition of the slalom went to Julia Dujmovits of Austria. Anke Karstens of Germany took silver and Amelie Kober bronze.

Parallel slalom was a new event at Sochi. While similar to the giant slalom, the gates are placed closer together, requiring more adept turning ability. The men's and women's races are held on the same courses.

Wild, who was born in Washington state, competed for the United States for most of his career and grew frustrated by the lack of financial resources for snowboarders. In 2011, he married Zavarzina and was given Russian citizenship but struck a special deal that allowed him to keep this American passport. It was deal that has proved fruitful for the Russians at Sochi.

This second gold gave Russia 10 golds, one more than the United States and Canada and one less than Norway. The medal boosted Russia's medal count to 27 on Saturday afternoon, identical to the Americans' count. Canada's tally was 24, with at least one more medal, gold or silver, guaranteed in Sunday's men's hockey final.

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None of the three Canadian men and three women made the finals and the athlete who won snowboard gold in Vancouver, Jasey-Jay Anderson of Quebec, said financial pressure might limit future competitions.

Anderson, who is one of the most highly decorated athletes in the sport – he was overall World Cup champions four years running in the first half of the last decade – said his knees are strong and he wants to keep competing but that another Olympics is unlikey. "The big problems is finances," he said. "I went into debt for these Games…I wouldn't do it again. My wife would shoot me."

Anderson, 38 is melding business with sports. He owns a company in Mt. Tremblant, Que., that makes snowboards and competed on one of his own creations – a sleek silver number – in Sochi. He also has a blueberry farm. Anderson said the cost of his Sochi campaign, plus the cost of snowboard development, came to about $60,000, putting his family under financial pressure.

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About the Author
European Columnist

Eric Reguly is the European columnist for The Globe and Mail and is based in Rome. Since 2007, when he moved to Europe, he has primarily covered economic and financial stories, ranging from the euro zone crisis and the bank bailouts to the rise and fall of Russia's oligarchs and the merger of Fiat and Chrysler. More


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