PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Vic Wild, the American-born alpine snowboarder who became a Russian citizen after nearly retiring because of a lack of funding for his sport in the United States, failed to win a medal at the PyeongChang Games on Saturday after taking a pair of golds four years ago.
Wild, 31, lost in the first round in the parallel giant slalom race at Phoenix Snow Park. The Olympics’ pared-back schedule – the IOC dropped parallel slalom snowboarding from its program – allowed him no room for error, and Roland Fischnaller beat him by .93 seconds.
Following his marriage to fellow racer Alena Zavarzina in 2011, Wild applied for citizenship in Russia and was allowed to keep his American passport. He was hailed in Russia, even meeting with President Vladimir Putin following his double gold.
Alpine snowboarding, in which racers carve through a course in side-by-side, one-on-one matchups, does not receive money from the United States Ski and Snowboarding Association. American racers are left with one choice: self-fund or seek alternate options. Wild, originally from Washington, chose the latter. Others, like American Michael Trapp, who did not make the finals, have gone the former route.
“I’m American, man,” Trapp said. “I’m American. I don’t really want to go win a medal for another country.”
This time around, Wild didn’t, either.
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