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Vic Wild wins second snowboard gold at Sochi Olympics

OlympicsRussiaVladimir Putin2014 Winter Olympics

SOCHI, Russia — Congratulatory messages started coming from time zones near and far. One, however, was particularly startling to the new Olympic gold medalist.

Vic Wild, the American-born snowboarder who is competing for Russia, received a message of support from a childhood acquaintance named Hans.

"I was mean to him when I was 7 years old," Wild said. "I felt bad about it, honestly, ever since. He messaged me the other day and I was at a loss for words, man. I said, 'Dude, even this guy is stoked for me.'

"I was able to apologize to him and everything was cool, man."

FRAMEWORK: Best images from Sochi

Everything was cool Saturday for the snowboarder with the red-hot Olympic touch. Wild won his second gold medal of the Games, beating Zan Kosir of Slovenia, by 0.11 of a second, in the final of the men's parallel slalom at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park. Benjamin Karl of Austria won the bronze.

If he had competed for the United States, Wild would have been the most successful American athlete at these Olympics.

Not only are they stoked in Russia for Wild but also in his small hometown of White Salmon, Wash., where friends and supporters got together to watch live Internet streaming of his races in Sochi, according to his mother.

"Can you believe this?" said his mother, Carol Wild-Delano. "I don't think he gets tired. I think it's adrenaline. He gets more and more focused each run."

She saw him after his first gold-medal performance, in which he won the parallel giant slalom, and said: "I haven't seen him smile that big in years. Years. Years."

Wild's post-race news conferences have been humorous affairs even in the fun world of extreme sports.

But it has been a long few days. Wild appeared tired, yawning a couple of times, and maybe even slightly down. Perhaps it was because his Russian wife, snowboarder Alena Zavarzina, who won bronze in the women's parallel giant slalom, exited in the first knockout round in the parallel slalom.

And Wild was a little bothered at some perceptions of his move to Russia.

"There was no question, 'All right, if I continue riding for the U.S., this is what I'm going to get and if I start riding for Russia, this is what I'm going to get,'" he said. "It was, 'OK, I just retired from snowboarding. I'm going to go to college now. What degree am I going to get?'

"I thought architecture would be cool…. But I had an opportunity to continue snowboarding and so I [did that] because I thought I could do something special.

"I had never reached my potential and I wanted to see how good I could get. That's why I continued snowboarding and that's why I'm a Russian."

He said he had not heard from Russian President Vladimir Putin. But Wild's two gold medals provided a big push for Russia in the medal table. "If that helps, I'll be stoked to do it," Wild said.

As for his native White Salmon, Wild is planning to visit in March. The hope, from him, is that things are low-key.

"I hope that people are stoked, but I hope they don't go too far out of their way," Wild said. "I think it's really cool, but I don't want it to be too blown up.

"I'm just a person that had some great days and I can't wait to share them with my friends."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Twitter: @reallisa

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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OlympicsRussiaVladimir Putin2014 Winter Olympics
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