Husband/wife duo Vic Wild, Alena Zavarzina win medals in parallel giant slalom
Vic Wild, an American-born snowboarder competing under the Russian flag, took the win in men's parallel giant slalom, standing atop the podium in his adopted homeland.
Wild's wife, Alena Zavarzina, was on hand as well - standing on a podium of her own after taking bronze in the women's final.
A native of White Salmon, Wash., Wild found himself lacking support in his Alpine snowboarding career from the United States. At the time Wild was contemplating quitting, he was also dating Zavarzina, spending a lot of time in Moscow visiting her. It was there that a Russian coach came up with a solution that would ultimately take Wild's career to the next level - become a Russian citizen.
Unable to gain citizenship through the Russia Ministry of Sport, Wild found another path to get him there, by marrying Zavarzina. The two wed in 2011, and since then Wild has competed as part of the Russian team alongside his wife.
While Zavarzina's results hadn't been notable recently, Wild has developed into an elite rider and has been one of the biggest forces on the World Cup circuit, making him one of the favorites when the competition began in Sochi.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Through the lens: Vic Wild, Patrizia Kummer win gold in parallel giant slalom
The 1/8 finals kicked off the racing, and the big story was former Olympic medalists bowing out early. The gold and silver medalists from Vancouver - Canadian Jasey Jay Anderson and Austrian Benjamin Karl - and two-time gold medalist Philipp Schoch of Switzerland were all quickly eliminated by their opening round competition.
Also making an early exit was Russian Andrey Sobolev, who had been the top seed from qualifying. Sobolev held the advantage heading into the second run, but lost control just enough to give up the win to Andreas Prommegger of Austria.
The women's field lost their defending gold medalist early as well, as Dutch snowboarder Nicolien Sauerbreij was defeated in her first-round matchup with Austria's Ina Meschik.
Vic Wild had no such issues. He was dominant throughout, taking care of France's Sylvain Dufour in the 1/8 finals, dispatching 2006 silver medalist Simon Schoch of Switzerland in the quarterfinals, then knocking off Germany's Patrick Bussler in the semifinal to set himself up for a gold medal showdown in the big final.
Meanwhile his wife, Zavarzina, was tearing through the competition on the women's side. Two dominant rounds earned her a matchup with Switzerland's Patrizia Kummer, the gold medal favorite, in the semifinals. Zavarzina edged Kummer out by 0.04 seconds on the first run, but slid out taking a turn in the second run and gave the heat win to Kummer.
Zavarzina still had a chance at a bronze medal, taking on Meschik in the small final. The two competitors were separated by 0.01 seconds after the first run, then Meschik grabbed the early edge in Run 2, but Zavarzina turned on the jets and took the victory to earn herself a bronze medal.
As for Wild, he finally ran into trouble when he took on Swiss rider Nevin Galmarini in the men's big final. After trailing in the first run, he would have to start the second run about a half-second behind. But Wild overcame that deficit and then some, taking the win by more than two seconds and earning the gold medal just mere minutes after his wife won bronze.
Galmarini would get the silver, with Slovenia's Zan Kosir winning the small final to earn bronze for the men.
Embedded video_content_type: Vic Wild: To Russia with love
"I want to thank Russia for giving me the opportunity to win a gold medal," Wild said after the win, which gave Russia its first gold in a snowboard event at the Olympic Winter Games. "My teammates helped me so much. I don't think many of them like me, but I really appreciate it."
In an interview with Russian TV after taking the bronze, Zavarzina said that she had no idea Wild had made it into his big final final but also noted that she had predicted the accomplishment beforehand.
The women's big final matched up Kummer and Japan's Tomoka Takeuchi. Takeuchi held the edge after the first run, but a crash on Run 2 gave the win to Kummer and helped her deliver on her status as the favorite for gold entering the day. Takeuchi's silver medal was the first-ever of any color won by a female Japanese snowboarder at the Winter Olympics.
Underscoring just how rare the feat is, Wild and Zavarzina became just the second husband and wife to win medals in the same event. The only other time it has happened was when married Chinese figure skating pair Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo won gold on Valentine’s Day at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Takeuchi (JPN) defeats Calve (CAN)
Meschik (AUT) defeats Leeson (CAN)
Zavarzina (RUS) defeats Lavigne (CAN)
Kummer (SUI) defeats Ledecka (CZE)
Zosir (SLO) defeats Prommegger (AUT)
Galmarini (SUI) defeats Marguc (SLO)
Bussler (GER) defeats Flander (SLO)
Wild (RUS) defeats S. Schoch (SUI)
Takeuchi (JPN) defeats Meschik (AUT)
Kummer (SUI) defeats Zavarzina (RUS)
Galmarini (SUI) defeats Kosir (SLO)
Wild (RUS) defeats Bussler (GER)
Women's small final (bronze)
Zavarzina (RUS) defeats Meschik (AUT)
Men's small final (bronze)
Kosir (SLO) defeats Bussler (GER)
Women's big final (gold)
Kummer (SUI) defeats Takeuchi (JPN)
Men's big final (gold)
Wild (RUS) defeats Galmarini (SUI)
Best of Sochi