Husband and wife win Olympic snowbord medals for Russia

Feb. 19, 2014 at 7:26 AM
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SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- A snowboarding romance and ensuing marriage turned into two Olympic medals for Russia Wednesday.

Vic Wild, born in Washington state but now a citizen of Russia and a resident of Moscow, won Olympic gold in the snowboard parallel giant slalom competition just minutes after his wife of three years had won a bronze.

Alena Zavarzina and Wild were married after snowboarding brought them together.

The medals for husband and wife came at the end of a competition that took place in perfect, sunny conditions and with a large crowd overflowing the grandstands.

Sixteen competitors survive qualifying in parallel giant slalom and then, two by two, they battle through four rounds of racing to determine the champion.

At each stage of the event the two competitors twice go down the slalom course side by side. The winner of the first race then gets to start ahead of his or her adversary with the size of the head start depending on the time difference in the first run.

Wild was a half second behind Nevin Galmarini of Switzerland after their first run in the final, but Galmarini made a mistake early in the second run that opened the door. Wild took advantage, moved in front midway through the second run and breezed home when Galmarini continued to have problems getting around the final gates.

The bronze medal in the men's competition went to Zan Kosir of Slovenia.

Patrizia Kummer of Switzerland won the women's gold medal in a close battle with Japan's Tomoka Takeuchi. Those two were headed for a thrilling finish when Takeuchi fell with three gates to go.

Zavarzina had a lead of just .01 of a second after her first run in the bronze medal race against Ina Meschik of Austria, but pulled ahead in the second run for an overall win of .82 of a second.

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