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Russia's Vic Wild (L) and wife Alena Zavarzina pose with the Russian flag  after the snowboard parallel giant slalom competition at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Rosa Khutor February 19, 2014. (Reuters / Dylan Martinez)
Russia's Vic Wild (L) and wife Alena Zavarzina pose with the Russian flag after the snowboard parallel giant slalom competition at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Rosa Khutor February 19, 2014. (Reuters / Dylan Martinez)

February 20, 2014

Love and slalom: Russian snowboarder and her US husband win medals on same day

Alena Zavarzina hugged husband Vic Wild on Thursday, a fresh gold medalist in the parallel giant slalom event. Minutes prior, Alena won bronze in the ladies' slalom. But was the international couple really competing against each other in the medals count?

"It's incredible to have won a medal along with Alena. We're together all the time,” Wild told AFP at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Winning on the same day, at almost the same time, was “too good to be true,” he added.

Wild, the first in qualification, managed to jump into the big final which gives an opportunity to compete for gold or silver. He nearly washed out twice during the first finals run. However, he managed to beat his rival, Nevin Galmarini from Switzerland, by 2.14 seconds after two runs. This is the first Olympic gold for the 27-year-old athlete.

The athlete's triumph came just minutes after his wife raced to bronze in the women's event.

"I'm just very happy that we both did and I'm very happy Vic got gold because this is what he worked for,” Alena said.

Alena’s route to victory was similar to that of her husband’s, except she was fighting for bronze in the small final. Her first run with Ina Meschik from Austria was not so good; Zavarzina placed second. But in the second run, the Russian – who performed with a broken arm – clocked in 0.82 seconds ahead of her rival, bagging bronze.

Russia's Vic Wild competes in the Men's Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom Semifinals at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 19, 2014. (AFP Photo / Javier Soriano)

The transcontinental relationship between Alena and Vic began in 2009 while they were traveling in the same pack on the World Cup snowboard racing circuit. Vic, born in the small US town of White Salmon, Washington, was competing for the US. Zavarzina, a native of Novosibirsk, rode for Russia.

"When I first met her, I knew something was a little different, so I was very careful with how our relationship went," said Vic.

They tied the knot in July 2011 in what Wild described as "a full-on Siberian wedding."

And then Vic Wild made a major life change – without which he may never have become an Olympic champion. He decided to stay in his wife’s homeland.

Wild received a Russian passport and took up Russian citizenship in 2011. He also resolved to compete for his new home country.

"He had to switch countries, switch nationality, accept something that some people would never accept,” Alena said. "He's so far from his home town. He did an amazing job, he deserves it. I'm so happy I'm going to cry.”

Bronze Medallist, Russia's Alena Zavarzina competes in the Women's Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom Final at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park during the Sochi Winter Olympics on February 19, 2014. (AFP Photo / Javier Soriano)

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