Vic Wild, who switched from U.S. to Russia and won Olympic gold, readies for last ride

Vic Wild
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Vic Wild, the snowboarder who switched from the U.S. to Russia and won two Olympic gold medals in 2014, is preparing for the likely final season of his career. He’s not one to make a big deal about retirement, though.

A Russian TV report last week stated based off an interview that Wild will race for the last time this winter.

“Probably after the Olympics, we’ll see,” he said by phone when asked about it. “If I [qualify for and] go to the Olympics, maybe I finish the season, maybe not. I’ll feel it out.

“Probably should have retired a long time ago. But I’m going to stop now.”

Wild, 35, has one World Cup podium in the last five years and is trying to cling to fourth place on the Russian depth chart in parallel giant slalom, where a maximum of four riders per country can go to the Olympics.

“For me to be able to snowboard, it’s just a big sacrifice,” he said. “I can’t really do anything else because it just takes up so much time. And I’ve done everything I needed to do.”

He authored one of the fascinating athlete stories of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The native of White Salmon, Washington, sought to leave the U.S. program because of a lack of funding and overall support paid out to the Alpine team, the least-publicized (and the U.S.’ least successful) discipline in snowboarding after halfpipe, slopestyle and snowboard cross.

So he rode for Russia starting in 2012, gaining eligibility after marrying Russian snowboarder Alena Zavarzina. Then something happened that stunned Wild — he swept both the parallel slalom and the parallel giant slalom events at his first Olympics after ranking ninth in the world the previous season.

“I would have retired after the Olympics in Sochi had I not won,” he said Friday. “For sure it was the easier money to keep snowboarding. And I didn’t really know how else to earn money back then. And also, I felt like I kind of was obligated to keep going for the [Russian] snowboard federation, for a lot of people that invested a lot of time in me to come to Russia.”

Wild was one of two Russians to win multiple individual golds in Sochi. The other was also a foreign-born athlete, former South Korea short track speed skater Viktor Ahn. When Wild met Vladimir Putin after the Games, Putin spoke to him in English.

Now, Wild is the last active individual gold medalist for Russia from those Winter Games who wasn’t stripped of a medal (temporarily or permanently) as part of the nation’s doping scheme.

Wild believes that some Russians were cheating in Sochi, but not to the extent that whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov said happened. Wild was not implicated, but said some tried to lump him into the tainted group anyway.

“You can’t accidentally take drugs,” he said. “You’ve got to know you’re doing it. This is just silly.”

Wild was stressed to not know whether he was going to be on the list of Russians invited to compete at the 2018 Olympics until one week before the Opening Ceremony. He made it to South Korea, placing 10th in the parallel giant slalom (parallel slalom was removed from the program after its Sochi debut).

Wild knows he can still ride fast. He felt it in training, but it hasn’t recently translated to results. “Last year was kind of a disaster,” said Wild, who had a best World Cup finish of ninth and was 22nd at the world championships.

Wild was quoted by Russian media last week questioning vaccine requirements for young, healthy athletes, while supporting vaccinations for those who are older and immunocompromised. Asked about those comments, he said he will reluctantly adhere to the Olympic vaccination requirement to avoid a 21-day quarantine upon arrival in China, should he qualify for the Games.

“I support vaccines for whoever wants to have them,” he said. “I also support humans right to choice.”

Once he’s done snowboarding competitively, Wild wants to free ride and “make it in Moscow” with a snowboard gear business he runs with two friends. After that, he would consider spending more time in the U.S.

“I’ve been in the game a long time,” said Wild, who debuted on the World Cup in 2004. “There’s a bit more to life.”

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2023 French Open men’s singles draw, scores

French Open Men's Draw
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The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, the No. 2 seed, was upset in the first round by 172nd-ranked Brazilian qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild. It marked the first time a men’s top-two seed lost in the first round of any major since 2003 Wimbledon (Ivo Karlovic d. Lleyton Hewitt).

All of the American men lost before the fourth round. The last U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals was Andre Agassi in 2003.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw French Open Men's Singles Draw

Coco Gauff, Iga Swiatek set French Open rematch

Coco Gauff French Open

Coco Gauff swept into the French Open quarterfinals, where she plays Iga Swiatek in a rematch of last year’s final.

Gauff, the sixth seed, beat 100th-ranked Slovakian Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 7-5, 6-2 in the fourth round. She next plays the top seed Swiatek, who later Monday advanced after 66th-ranked Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko retired down 5-1 after taking a medical timeout due to illness.

Gauff earned a 37th consecutive win over a player ranked outside the top 50, dating to February 2022. She hasn’t faced a player in the world top 60 in four matches at Roland Garros, but the degree of difficulty ratchets up in Wednesday’s quarterfinals.

Swiatek won all 12 sets she’s played against Gauff, who at 19 is the only teenager in the top 49 in the world. Gauff said last week that there’s no point in revisiting last year’s final — a 6-1, 6-3 affair — but said Monday that she should rewatch that match because they haven’t met on clay since.

“I don’t want to make the final my biggest accomplishment,” she said. “Since last year I have been wanting to play her, especially at this tournament. I figured that it was going to happen, because I figured I was going to do well, and she was going to do well.

“The way my career has gone so far, if I see a level, and if I’m not quite there at that level, I know I have to improve, and I feel like you don’t really know what you have to improve on until you see that level.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Also Monday, No. 7 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia dispatched 36th-ranked American Bernarda Pera 6-3, 6-1, breaking all eight of Pera’s service games.

Jabeur, runner-up at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, has now reached the quarterfinals of all four majors.

Jabeur next faces 14th-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia, who won 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-5 over Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo, who played on a protected ranking of 68. Haddad Maia became the second Brazilian woman to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal in the Open Era (since 1968) after Maria Bueno, who won seven majors from 1959-1966.

Pera, a 28 year-old born in Croatia, was the oldest U.S. singles player to make the fourth round of a major for the first time since Jill Craybas at 2005 Wimbledon. Her defeat left Gauff as the lone American singles player remaining out of the 35 entered in the main draws.

The last American to win a major singles title was Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought matches the longest in history (since 1877) for American men and women combined.

In the men’s draw, 2022 French Open runner-up Casper Ruud reached the quarterfinals by beating 35th-ranked Chilean Nicolas Jarry 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-5. He’ll next play sixth seed Holger Rune of Denmark, a 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (7) winner over 23rd seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina.

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