Russian husband-and-wife duo win medals in parallel giant slalom

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Russia’s husband-and-wife snowboarding duo of Vic Wild (pictured) and Alena Zavarzina claimed Olympic parallel giant slalom medals within mere minutes of each other today – with Wild defeating Switzerland’s Nevin Galmarini for the men’s gold in the Big Final.

Wild, who was born in America but has represented Russia since marrying Zavarzina in 2011, was down half a second after the first run of the Big Final against Galmarini but came back in the second run to win by 2.14 seconds.

Before Wild and Galmarini settled the gold on the men’s side, Zavarzina had taken the Small Final on the women’s side to grab the bronze after falling in her semifinal against Switzerland’s Patrizia Kummer.

VIDEO: Vic Wild, to Russia, with love

Following the event, Wild and Zavarzina embraced at the bottom of the course.

Husband-and-wife medalists are certainly a noteworthy story. But as Olympic historian Bill Mallon noted in a Twitter reply to NBCOlympics.com’s Nick Zaccardi, it isn’t an uncommon story.

The Big Final for the women’s gold featured Kummer and Japan’s Tomoka Takeuchi, the top-ranked PGS riders on the World Cup circuit. Takeuchi put Kummer down three-tenths of a second after the first run, but fell on the second run to enable Kummer to take the win.

Only one American competed in PGS at Sochi. Justin Reiter was unable to advance out of men’s qualifying and is credited with a 24th place finish.

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MEN’S SNOWBOARDING – PARALLEL GIANT SLALOM
1. Vic Wild (RUS), won Big Final by 2.14 seconds

2. Nevin Galmarini (SUI)
3. Zan Kosir (SLO), won Small Final by 2.26 seconds

24. Justin Reiter (USA), eliminated in Qualifying

WOMEN’S SNOWBOARDING – PARALLEL GIANT SLALOM
1. Patrizia Kummer (SUI), won Big Final by 7.32 seconds

2. Tomoka Takeuchi (JPN)
3. Alena Zavarzina (RUS), won Small Final by 0.82 seconds

Continuity carries Germany, Russians into Olympic final

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GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — They forged bonds from Riga to Cologne and in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

It’s all led Germany and the Russians to a David versus Goliath Olympic gold-medal game Sunday. Even though the Russians were favorites all along and expected to win gold in a tournament without NHL stars and Germany was a longshot to even reach the semifinals after not qualifying in Sochi, these two teams are more similar than they are different.

NBCOlympics.com: OAR to face surprising Germany in final

Their familiarity and continuity is the biggest reason they’re facing off in the final.

Germany’s core group has been together through the Olympic qualification tournament and world championships and has played the same system for the past three years under coach Marco Sturm. The Russians’ 25-man roster is made up of 15 players from SKA St. Petersburg and eight from CSKA Moscow, the two best teams in the Kontinental Hockey League.

“That’s a big key to our success,” Germany defenseman Christian Ehrhoff said Saturday. “We were very familiar with each other. … (The Russians also) should be really familiar because almost everybody plays on the same teams in Russia.”

Read the full story here 

OAR’s cross-country success led by doping-tainted coach

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — They are hailed as the vanguard of a new generation of clean Russian cross-country skiers, all are under the age of 23 and all are coached by a man who was once suspended for doping offenses.

The youthful quartet is trained by Yuri Borodavko and has combined for three silver and three bronze medals at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

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Alexander Bolshunov, Alexei Chervotkin, Denis Spitsov and Natalia Nepryaeva have improved remarkably since working with Borodavko two years ago. Spitsov hadn’t even competed in a World Cup race until December but now has two Olympic silver medals and a bronze.

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Last week, the head of the Russian delegation in Pyeongchang described the cross-country team’s results as one of Russia’s “main achievements” at the games.

Read the full story and watch highlights from all the action in PyeongChang by clicking here