White Salmon native Vic Wild wins second gold for Russia
Seattle Times news services
SOCHI, Russia — Congratulatory messages started coming from time zones near and far. One, however, was particularly startling to the new Olympic gold medalist.
Vic Wild, the American-born snowboarder who is competing for Russia, received a message of support from a childhood acquaintance named Hans.
“I was mean to him when I was 7 years old,” Wild said. “I felt bad about it, honestly, ever since. He messaged me the other day and I was at a loss for words, man. I said, ‘Dude, even this guy is stoked for me.’
“I was able to apologize to him and everything was cool, man.”
Everything was cool Saturday for the snowboarder with the red-hot Olympic touch. Wild won his second gold medal of the Games, beating Zan Kosir of Slovenia, by 0.11 of a second, in the final of the men’s parallel slalom at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Benjamin Karl of Austria won the bronze.
If he had competed for the United States, Wild would have been the most successful American athlete at these Olympics.
Not only are they stoked in Russia for Wild but also in his small hometown of White Salmon on the Columbia River, where friends and supporters got together to watch live Internet streaming of his races in Sochi, according to his mother.
“Can you believe this?” said his mother, Carol Wild-Delano. “I don’t think he gets tired. I think it’s adrenaline. He gets more and more focused each run.”
She saw him after his first gold-medal performance, in which he won the parallel giant slalom, and said: “I haven’t seen him smile that big in years. Years. Years.”
Wild’s postrace news conferences have been humorous affairs even in the fun world of extreme sports.
But it has been a long few days. Wild appeared tired, yawning a couple of times, and maybe even slightly down. Perhaps it was because his Russian wife, snowboarder Alena Zavarzina, who won bronze in the women’s parallel giant slalom, exited in the first knockout round in the parallel slalom.
And Wild was a little bothered at some perceptions of his move to Russia.
“There was no question, ‘All right, if I continue riding for the U.S., this is what I’m going to get and if I start riding for Russia, this is what I’m going to get,’ ” he said. “It was, ‘OK, I just retired from snowboarding. I’m going to go to college now. What degree am I going to get?’
“I thought architecture would be cool ... But I had an opportunity to continue snowboarding and so I (did that) because I thought I could do something special.
“I had never reached my potential and I wanted to see how good I could get. That’s why I continued snowboarding and that’s why I’m a Russian.”
Austrian sets mark
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — A day after Mikaela Shiffrin became the youngest women’s Olympic slalom champion, 34-year-old Mario Matt of Austria became the oldest men’s Olympic slalom champion, winning the gold medal over teammate Marcel Hirscher by 28-hundredths of a second.
Matt, who turns 35 in April, is also the oldest Olympic Alpine gold medalist. He had never finished higher than 34th in three previous Olympic races dating to 2006.
Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway won the bronze medal, 0.83 of a second behind Matt’s combined winning time of 1 minute 41.84 seconds. Kristoffersen, 19, is also the youngest male Alpine Olympic medalist.
“I thought today I would just ski and see what happens,” said Matt, who has won 14 World Cup slalom races. “It was an attitude that worked. A massive goal has come through for me 15 or 20 years after I first thought about it.”
Ted Ligety of the United States was sixth after the first run and only 11-hundredths from the bronze medal position, but like many of the leaders he could not complete the second run and skied off the course.
• Marit Bjoergen of Norway became the most decorated female Winter Olympian when she won her sixth gold medal and third of these Games with a win in the women’s 30-kilometer cross-country race. It was her 10th total medal.
• Russia’s 4 X 7.5-kilometer biathlon relay team put the host nation in a tie with Norway for most gold medals when it won its 11th of the Games.
• Cross-country skier Marina Lisogor of Ukraine became the third athlete to test positive for banned substances in two days. The 30-year-old Lisogor competed in two cross-country events in Sochi, and did not win a medal. The IOC later announced that Latvian hockey player Vitalijs Pavlovs tested positive for the stimulant methylhexanamine after his team’s loss to Canada in the quarterfinals on Thursday.