(SOCHI, Russia) — American snowboarder Vic Wild rocketed across the finish line first at the men’s parallel giant slalom Wednesday in Sochi, scoring his first gold medal.
The catch is: he won the medal for Russia.
Wild, who was born in Washington state, said that he didn’t have the support from the United States Olympic Committee or the United States Snowboarding Association to pursue his Olympic dreams at home. So he went abroad.
The 27-year-old is also married to a Russian Olympic snowboarder, Alena Zavarzina, who won bronze in the same event just minutes before her husband.
“I didn’t have the support I needed. The USOC and the USSA do a great job but not everyone can be happy. I don’t hold a grudge. I am here now doing what I want to do and it’s all good,” Wild said after the event.
He also said he is best friends with his opposition in the race, Team USA rider Justin Reiter.
“He’s the man. He coached me a little bit today. We’re best friends and it’s not easy to find a guy like that,” Wild said.
Wild told ESPN he joined the Russian snowboarding team because the country invests in Alpine snowboarding, unlike the U.S. team, which focuses its funding on halfpipe and snowboard cross.
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