Vic Wild

Vic Wild comes to a stop after winning a gold medal at the Sochi Olympics. (Jens Buettner / EPA / February 19, 2014)

SOCHI, Russia -- Meet snowboarder Vic Wild, the newly minted Olympic gold medalist from Russia -- by way of White Salmon, Wash.

Is this setting a trend, perhaps? The winner of the men's parallel giant slalom on Wednesday answered the question with a one-word answer and then continued with a longer explanation.

This was not long after sharing athletic glory with his wife, Alena Zavarzina of Russia, who took the bronze in the women's parallel giant slalom.

"No. I don't recommend that mentality," Wild said. "I have a very interesting situation. You've got to be really careful about what you do. It's a serious thing to do. If somebody is going to switch nations, they better be very sure."

The 27-year-old married Zavarzina in July 2011 and applied for Russian citizenship. Frustrated by what he said was a lack of support, he was done riding for the United States and embraced his new country.

Russia embraced him.

The support for the married couple at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park was loud and consistent through a long afternoon of competition. Nevin Galmarini of Switzerland took silver and Zan Kosir grabbed the bronze.

"I'm so stoked to win it for Russia," Wild said. "I live in Russia. Everybody thinks, 'Oh, he's an American.' It's not true.

"I'm not like some dude that lives in the United States and decides, 'Oh man, it'll be easy for me to go to the Olympics and go to some country that doesn't do anything.' Some country that doesn't have any athletes. I went the hard way. Russia has lots of good riders."

He said he felt he never would have received a shot at a gold medal or even continuing to compete at a high level had he stayed in the United States.

"Russia is the country that's given me an opportunity to win a medal," Wild said. "If I was still riding for the USSA (U.S. Ski and Snowboard Assn.), I'd be back home.

"Maybe with some mediocre job, doing something mediocre. It's not what I wanted to be. I wanted to try to be the best I thought I could be."

Winning a medal on the same day as his wife made the occasion that much more special.

"It's incredible to win it along with Alena," he said. "We're together all the time. If one of us has success and the other doesn't, it's great, but it's not that great.

"So for us to both have success on the same day, it's truly incredible. I don't know how this happened. It's too good to be true. I might wake up soon. It feels like a dream."

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Anze Kopitar, Slovenia can feel proud despite loss to Sweden

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Twitter: @reallisa