Olympic snowboarder Vic Wild was born and raised in White Salmon, Wash. Yes, the Washington that’s located on the west coast of the United States of America. Why, then, did Wild drape the Russian flag over his shoulders after winning a gold medal in the parallel giant slalom on Wednesday?
Wild is a citizen of Russia. He moved to the country in 2011 after becoming fed up with the US Ski and Snowboard Association’s lack of commitment to parallel slalom snowboarding. Instead, the US has been more focused on freestyle and halfpipe.
“I had no money,” Wild told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. “I wasn’t going to continue banging my head against the wall. … I told everybody in the Russian snowboard federation, ‘If you guys take me, you’ll never regret it.’”
Wild became a citizen after marrying Russian Olympic snowboarder Alyona Zavarzina. Before the Olympics began, he told NBC Sports that he does not consider himself to be an American anymore.
“I don’t even think about me being American anymore,” Wild said. “I’m Russian. I might not speak Russian fluently, and I might not totally understand the culture, but I live there. I’m not some American guy who lives in America and wants to snowboard for Russia because it’s easier. If anything, I went the hard way.”
While some will undoubtedly say that Wild abandoned his home country, the US Snowboarding team was quick to congratulate him after he took home the gold.
Congrats to Vic Wild on his PGS gold. We have always respected Vic's decision to ride for Russia & are happy for his success in #Sochi.
— ussnowboarding (@ussnowboarding) February 19, 2014
Wild knew what he wanted out of life, created a plan, and executed it to perfection. Who can blame him for that?