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Feature Faster, higher, stronger MIKHAIL MORDASOV Get into the spirit of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games! P.06 Were LGBT calls for a boycott the right move? An activist weighs in P.05 Russian coaches help American athletes go for gold on the ice P.02 Wednesday, February 5, 2014 This pull-out is produced and published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia) and did not involve the news or editorial departments of The Washington Post SNOWBOARDER WILD FOR RUSSIA T here will be several naturalized athletes representing Russia at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, but only one became Russian for the love of his life. Vic Wild, a snowboarder from Washington state, fell in love with fellow snowboarder Alena Zavarzina. They were married in 2011 when Wild decided to move to Russia to compete. The 27-year-old athlete appears happy with the decision, particularly as he also may be reaching the pinnacle of his career. On January 12, Wild won a World Cup parallel slalom for what sports reporters called his first great career victory – a significant morale boost weeks before the Olympic Games in Sochi. Being Russian suits this snowboarder. Wild knew that the transition from America to Russia, both personally and professionally, would not be easy at first. As an athlete, he received his passport quickly, but Wild was aware that as part of the process, he would have to miss a whole season of international competitions before he could join the Russian team. He sat out the entire 2011/12 winter season, spending his time focusing on training. In May 2012 Wild received his Russian citizenship, and in January 2013, he won bronze for Russia at the parallel giant slalom competition of the Snowboarding World Championship. This January, he won his first gold at the World Cup stage, his best performance ever. Wild’s wife, snowboarder Alena Zavarzina, 24, was born in Novosibirsk, about 1,750 miles east of Moscow. She began snowboarding at the age of 10, when her mother took her to the regional sport school. Zavarzina’s greatest achievement so far is a gold medal at the 2011 parallel giant slalom competition of the World Championship. In addition to snowboarding, Zavarzina’s interests include painting and photography. Vic Wild is an American-born snowboarder from Washington state who will compete for Russia in the Sochi Olympics its people. “My first encounter with Russia happened when I was seven years old; that’s when I saw the movie ‘The Hunt for Red October.’ It depicts Russians as aggressive and unpleasant. As I grew older, I realized that the film is ridiculous, and that Russians are a pleasant and cheerful lot. There are many stereotypes about Russia in the United States. I can’t say the one about vodka is wrong, but bears roaming the streets? Come on! Although, come to think of it, when I first came to St. Pe- Zavarzina met Wild at the World Cup, where competitions for men and women are held simultaneously. Their friendship became something more during a competition in Moscow in March 2011. “Vic came to Moscow without his coach,” Zavarzina said. “I was recovering from an injury at the time. I could barely walk, but I was still able to help him at the training sessions, and I showed him around Moscow. Even though I was still receiving treatment for my injury, I spent the next two months in an excellent mood. That’s despite the fact that we hardly even saw each other because we were living in different countries.” A Russian wedding, vodka and bears The couple married in Novosibirsk – a cultural baptism by fire for Wild. “There were huge crowds of people,” he recalled. “People started coming to our house early in the morning. I don’t really like drinking, but the company being what it was, I had to down about 10 shots of vodka. I had never drunk so much before, but I just could not refuse; all the Russians were asking me too nicely to refuse.” Wild said he is not afraid of the Russian winters because it often gets seriously cold in America’s Northwest corner. Although Wild grew up with many stereotypes about Russia, today he has a better sense of the country and tersburg, I was almost immediately accosted by a street photographer who was walking around with a small bear.” In addition to training, Wild spends a lot of time working on his Russian. After he met Zavarzina, WIld spent a month studying the language intensively, with six hours of Russian language coaching every day. He has time to study, partially because of Russia’s system of state support for athletes. “Back in the States, I had to worry about lots of things, such as booking flights and hotels, and even looking for sponsors. Here in Russia, the government provides a huge amount of support to the sportsmen on the national team. I don’t have to worry about anything but snowboarding. So I am very happy with how my life has turned out. I have a loving wife, and everything I need to win competitions. But, frankly speaking, snowboarding is a lot more popular in the United States than it is in Russia.” Wild and Zavarzina’s friendship became something more during a competition in Moscow in March 2011. Keep your finger on the pulse of Sochi with our special section! Subscribe now to get breaking news on all events IMAGO/LEGION MEDIA Through hardships to Sochi The New Year brought new challenges for the couple. Just as Wild delivered a winning performance at the World Cup stage in Austria’s Bad Gastein, Zavarzina fell during qualifications and injured her arm. She had to have immediate surgery, and her participation in the Sochi Olympics was put into question. Fortunately, the athlete recovered sooner than expected, and on January 20, when Russia announced the composition of its snowboarding slalom team, Zavarzina was on the list. Both husband and wife will go for the gold in Sochi. © RIA NOVOSTI Vic Wild, now on the Russian snowboarding team, is competing better than ever. A paid supplement to ■ILYA TRISVYATSKY SPECIAL TO RBTH

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