Making her second Olympic appearance in Sochi, Alena Zavarzina is three years removed from an eventful 2011 in which she had her biggest victory, her worst injury and, rather unexpectedly, her wedding day.
A very promising rider and two-time medalist at the world junior championships, Zavarzina won parallel giant slalom gold at the 2011 World Championships, but three days later, she tore her ACL. That same season, she had been dating American snowboarder Vic Wild, who was growing increasingly disillusioned about the lack of support he was receiving from the U.S. federation.
A coach suggested Wild try competing for Russia, and after exploring simpler options, they learned that marriage was Wild’s only path to citizenship. So on July 16, 2011, they were married in Zavarzina’s Western Siberian hometown of Novosibirsk.
“It’s like bungee jumping,” Zavarzina says. “You can’t really think about it. You just go.”
In Sochi, Zavarzini and Wild made history when they reached the parallel giant slalom podium on the same day. Wild won a gold medal and Zavarzina won a bronze medal just minutes apart.
- 2014 Sochi Olympics (PGS) - bronze
- 2010 Vancouver Olympics (PGS) - 17th