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Northwest Snowboarder Races For Russia At Olympic Games

Russian Federation
Vic Wild

A Pacific Northwest snowboarder is predicted to be a medal contender when snowboard giant slalom racing begins Wednesday at the Winter Olympics.

But don’t look for Vic Wild on Team USA. The American-born, former Columbia River Gorge resident is competing for the Russians.

Vic Wild was raised in White Salmon, Wash., and learned to snowboard at Mount Hood Meadows. He became a top rider on the U.S. national team, which is how he met snowboard female world champion Russian Alena Zavarzina. They got married in 2011. That opened the door for Wild to gain Russian citizenship and change teams.

He explained to Russian television why he'd do that.

"I didn't have any good funding in the United States," Wild said. "I wasn't going to reach the goals that I wanted. Russia was an opportunity to get the goals and to be able to do what I wanted to do."

Wild now lives in Moscow with his wife. At the Winter Olympics, both are entered to compete in the lesser-known snowboard disciplines of parallel giant slalom and slalom. Those involve downhill racing on alpine courses similar to ski racing.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.