NW native Wild wins gold, joins Russian wife on podium

By David Pace / The Associated Press

Published Feb 20, 2014 at 12:01AM

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Vic loves Alena. Alena loves Vic.

Russia loves them both.

The edgy world of snowboarding took on a softer side Wednesday, weaving a Hollywood-ready story about love and marriage, gold and bronze, lifelong goals fulfilled amid just a touch of political intrigue.

Vic Wild, an American native who now competes for Russia, captured the Olympic gold medal in parallel giant slalom about 15 minutes after his wife, Russia’s Alena Zavarzina, won the bronze.

“For both of us to have success on the same day, it’s truly incredible,” Wild said. “I don’t know how this happened.”

It started five years ago while they were traveling in the same pack on the World Cup snowboard racing circuit. Vic, born and raised in White Salmon, Wash., competed for the United States. Alena, 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,” Wild said. “Very, very, very careful.”

Love bloomed. Zavarzina, the 2011 world champion, doesn’t enjoy sharing every little detail. “I’ll tell them when I’m old, in my memoir,” she said.

Wild, 27, and Zavarzina, 24, did not consider themselves the marrying types. But that was the quickest way for Wild to gain citizenship and a chance to compete for a country that puts more money than America into this more Europe-centric version of snowboarding.

Nevin Galmarini of Switzerland finished second for silver, and Zan Kosir of Slovenia took the bronze.

In the women’s race, Patrizia Kummer, coached by Bend’s Rob Roy, cruised to victory — and Switzerland’s sixth gold medal of the games — when Japan’s Tomoka Takeuchi missed a gate midway through the second run of the finals.

Figure skating

Defending gold medalist Yuna Kim of South Korea scored 74.92 points, ahead of Adelina Sotnikova of Russia by 0.28 in the women’s short program. Carolina Kostner of Italy is third with 74.12. Fifteen-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia, who helped Russia win the team gold on Feb. 9, fell on a triple flip. American champion Gracie Gold is fourth going into today’s free program.

Nordic skiing

Marit Bjoergen captured her fifth career Olympic gold medal when Norway won the women’s team sprint. Ingvild Flugstad Oestberg was the other Norwegian skier. Finland took silver and Sweden bronze. In the men’s race, Finland took advantage of a fall that slowed its two closest rivals. Russia grabbed the silver, Sweden the bronze.

Speedskating

Sablikova won her second consecutive gold in the women’s 5,000 meters. The Dutch still added two more medals, with Ireen Wust winning silver and Carien Kleibeuker the bronze.

Biathlon

Norway’s Ole Einar Bjoerndalen broke the record for overall medals that he had shared with cross-country skiing great Bjoern Daehlie. He also matched his fellow Norwegian’s record of eight gold medals. Bjoerndalen earlier won gold in Sochi in the men’s sprint biathlon. He can win another medal in the final men’s biathlon event of the Sochi Games, the 4x7.5-kilometer relay on Saturday. In the mixed relay biathlon, the Czech Republic won the silver and Italy the bronze.

Bobsled

The Canadian team of Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse won their second straight Olympic women’s bobsled gold. Elana Meyers and Lauryn Williams of the U.S. took silver, and teammates Jamie Greubel and Aja Evans won the bronze.

Curling

Canada and Sweden will play for the gold medal in women’s curling after winning semifinal games that went to the final shot. In the men’s tournament, Canada will meet Britain for gold.