alena zavarzina

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Vic Wild finds much different welcome at PyeongChang

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PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — It was a feel-good love story about snowboarders that made Russia smile.

Four years later, Vic Wild and Alena Zavarzina are still married and still riding.

But boy did this get complicated.

Wild, the American-born rider who now competes for Russia, finished out of the medals, same as his wife, at the parallel giant slalom Saturday, closing a sad chapter to a journey that began as a fairy tale but turned into a drama about cheating, doping and figuring out who was to blame.

It was a small part of a much larger story about the strained, scandal-tainted relationship between Russia, the Olympics and the rest of the world.

“For 18 months, the IOC never told me anything,” Wild said after losing in the round-of-16 in a contest taken by Switzerland’s Nevin Galmarini. “No one would tell me if, somehow, some way, I was involved. That definitely put some gray hairs on my head.”

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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’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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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

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