Author: Mike Miller


Vic Wild’s wild ride into snowboarding history

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KRASNAYA, POLYANA, Russia — Vic Wild has cemented his place in snowboard history, and in far more ways than one. Let’s count the accomplishments that began on Wednesday and culminated on Saturday.

On Wednesday, Wild won the parallel giant slalom event, which made him the first Russian to win a gold medal ever in snowboarding. Simultaneously, his wife won bronze in the same event, making them the second married couple to earn medals in the same event at a Winter Olympics — the other was in figure skating, which Wild laughed off as “cheating.”

Then came Saturday when he competed in the first-ever Olympic parallel slalom event, a new addition to the Olympic program for Sochi. Wild won gold, again. The second gold meant he was not only the first-ever gold medalist in the new sport, but also the first Russian snowboarder to now win two medals in snowboarding. Additionally, he was the first snowboarder to clinch two medals at a single Games – both of which ended up being gold.

“That’s just crazy, I didn’t know about any of that. This is just beyond anything I could ever hope for,” said Wild, truly stunned and struggling to find the words to equate to his accomplishments. “I don’t know. I really don’t know… I made it, man. Everything worked my way.”

Still floored, Wild was truly at a loss. His goals had been realized. His dreams were now reality, and then some.

VIDEO: Watch Wild’s ride to parallel slalom gold

“This is way more than a dream come true. I never ever dreamed of one gold medal, and now to have two. No words.”

Wild is an interesting character. Born in the state of Washington, Wild was unable to find the support he needed to continue snowboarding competitively in the States. He nearly hung up his competitive hardboots for good.

Fortunately for him, and the sport, he was dating a Russian snowboarder, Alena Zavarzina, who posed the idea of getting married, moving to Russia and keeping his Olympic dreams alive. They did just that. Wild quickly turned his snowboard career around with her support and that of his newfound home country.

Thank you Zavarzina!

However, his wife was not the only key player to Wild’s success.

Riding for Team USA was his good friend of many years Justin Reiter, and despite riding against each other in competition the two actually work together.

RELATED: Friends Wild, Reiter take divergent paths to Sochi

“He coaches me in between my runs. I’d have to guess that it would be way more difficult to win the last two days without his help,” said Wild gratefully and excited to speak to the value of Reiter. “He’s there for me. He knows a lot about snowboarding, a lot more than all of the coaches because he’s doing it and has been for a long time. He’s the man. I definitely owe him a lot.”

Unfortunately for the lone American representative Reiter, he was eliminated following his first run in qualifying after riding his board slightly over a gate, rather than around it. Reiter earned second at the 2013 World Championships and was considered a medal contender at the event in Sochi.

Despite his circumstances, Reiter wanted to stick around the event and do everything he could for his long time friend.

WATCH: Vic Wild earns second gold of Sochi Games

Before Wild’s final run, Reiter was spotted giving him his last bit of confidence, motivation and strategy with regard to how they saw and felt the course to be riding.

“[We were] basically just talking about course reports. I was trying to keep him focused, keeping him as solid as a friend can and just trying to be there for him,” said Reiter, wearing his striped and starred helmet.

Reiter went on to speak to Wild’s initial decision to make the move from the States to Russia as a way to continue his career, saying, “We spent a lot of time talking about it and I’ve supported his decision ever since the beginning. It was a great opportunity and I’m stoked he took it.”

A true friend indeed.

RELATED: Expat Wild, wife storm parallel giant slalom podiums for Russia

From his wife, his good friend and of course his new home country of Russia, Wild has had quite the support system around him following the lack thereof while striving to make it work in the States.

When hypothetically asked if he would return to race for Team USA if approached, he took absolutely no hesitation in saying, “no. These people took care of me. I’m going to continue riding here for the next four years and hopefully make the team again to win more medals for them in [South] Korea.”

With or without that support system, in the end it was Wild that laid the assault on the various slalom courses at the Sochi Games, but he would be remiss if he didn’t attribute some of that success to all those that made it happen. Wild will surely be remembered in the world of snowboarding indefinitely.

Javier Fernandez’s “Aerobic Class” Olympic Gala performance

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Photo credit: Getty

Spain’s Javier Fernandez may not have placed where he wanted to in the men’s event (he was fourth), but he certainly garnered some attention for his Gala performance. He skated an “Aerobic Class” performance, complete with water bottles, pushups and pretending to faint of exhaustion. Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch pitched in to “wake him up” by throwing water on him.

Click here to see the complete photo gallery at and click here to watch the full-event replay.

Swedish great Peter Forsberg rips refs selected for men’s hockey final

Toronto Maple Leafs v Buffalo Sabres
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When Canada plays against Sweden in the gold medal game on Sunday, the contest will be officiated by three Canadian-born referees and one American who lives in Calgary.

“What a (bleep)ing joke,” retired NHL star and Swedish gold medalist Peter Forsberg said, according to the Toronto Star. He added that the Canadian-heavy referee selection was “comedy at its highest level.”

Not everyone shares his opinion on the matter though. Swedish captain Niklas Kronwall thinks the referee selection makes sense, given that the players on both sides are used to NHL referees.

In fact, the IIHF said that it was a condition of the NHL’s participation that the Olympics employ NHL officials for the big games, reports CBC’s Elliotte Friedman. The referees also had to be approved by both teams.

The IIHF later issued a statement to clarify their selection process for the gold medal game. Officials have been evaluated throughout the tournament and they were selected based on their previous performance. The nationalities of the officials weren’t used as factors when determining who would be assigned to the medal games.

Even still, Forsberg isn’t the only one worried about the potential for bias. CBC’s Don Cherry thinks the referees will go to the other extreme to make it clear they’re not siding with Canada.

“It’s the biggest break (the Swedes) could have got,” said Cherry. “I guarantee you the first penalty (Canadian referee Kelly Sutherland) calls will be against a Canadian. Watch and see. And I’m never wrong.”