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    “I’m not Steven Seagal, but I’ve become 100% my own”: how an American fell in love with Russia

    Snowboarder Vic Wild brought our country two gold medals at Sochi 2014. In an interview with Sport, an American with a Russian passport admitted that those Games were the brightest event in his life, and also spoke about the glory and difficulties after the Olympics, the doping scandal and lucky champion socks.

    ” You could say I became 100% Russian”
    — How did the Olympics in Sochi change your life?

    < br>“This Olympics changed everything, everything became different. I worked all my life for this success. They began to recognize me on the street, people still pay attention and take pictures. I was not ready for life after Sochi, I didn’t know how it would change, I started earning money, became very busy, I had to learn a lot, it was “crazy”. But the only thing I wanted was to skate more. I am very proud of this Olympics, the medals.

    — The feeling that you have long ceased to be an American and are now 100% steel Russian

    – Yes, you can say so. But I still speak Russian poorly, this is my big mistake.

    — Here you have surpassed Steven Seagal? Recently, many American athletes have received Russian citizenship. Jeff Monson actually became a deputy.

    — I don’t want to compare myself with anyone, I’m a different person. Not like Steven Seagal or anyone else.

    — Could you imagine in 2014 that you would ever love Russia so much?

    — I didn’t think it would be like this. When I moved to Russia, I didn’t think that I would live here for a long time. I just trained and wanted to get results. And after Sochi I didn’t plan to live here.


    — Were you then impressed by the atmosphere in Sochi and the support in Russia?

    < br>

    – Of course, I was impressed. There was a very good atmosphere, it was a big project, we made very beautiful Olympic Games. I have only bright and warm memories from Sochi.

    —Did you experience stress due to responsibility? The whole country was looking at you.

    “There was no stress, I concentrated only on myself, I didn’t see the fans or anyone else. I only started thinking about it after the competition. But overall the support was very cool, the fans were very noisy, I felt them. It was like being a rock star, it was a great feeling. I was constantly shown on TV, many believed in me, a lot of Russians supported me.

    — Tell us about the relationship between the athletes at the Olympics. When there were no sanctions and nationalism.

    — We lived in the Olympic Village, we had a small house, several athletes lived with us, unfortunately, we didn’t have time to really communicate, because our discipline was at the end of the competition. I didn’t see much of other athletes because I was training all the time. And so – yes, the athletes visited each other and talked a lot, everything was fine.

    “The doping scandal traumatized even me”< br>— The Games in Sochi were great, but then everything was overshadowed by doping scandals. Was there any disappointment that such a holiday was ruined?

    – It was very bad, I was not ready for it. A traumatic experience even for me. I would never believe that athletes could do something like that. I was just shocked and very upset. An athlete does not need to take doping to succeed, nor does he need to cheat. Problems with doping exist everywhere, this is not only a problem in Russia, but in the whole world.

    I will probably never forget those who created this situation, I don’t want to be friends with them, I don’t want to have anything in common with them. I am far from all this and have nothing to do with doping. I don't even know where the truth is and where the lies are. I don’t have a single idea how this could have happened.

    —Did you notice anything during the Olympics, were there any conversations, rumors about doping?
    < br>
    – Of course not, I haven’t heard or seen anything like that. Yes, I didn’t speak Russian either. It had nothing to do with me. I did everything right, I didn’t break anything.

    Although I always did everything right, there is still a person who opposed me, this is Tatyana Pushkina (head of the FMBA department – ed.). She has been trying to destroy my career for many years, but I don’t give up or bend. I think one day she will be rewarded, and I will be fine.

    — After your victories at the Games in Sochi, did you receive any offers from the US team?
    < br>
    — No, I have never received any offers. There could be no talk of me going to America and speaking for them. I would not agree to this.

    — In America, were your gold medals at least discussed?

    — Many athletes say that At the Olympics, their dreams are at odds with reality. How was it in your case?

    — Yes, I dreamed of the Olympics as a child. And she was like in her dreams. A lot of people were worried about me, my family was with me, I won medals. The Olympics in Sochi was a wonderful experience for me. Whenever I return to Rosa Khutor, I always go to the house where I lived, I know the room where I slept, I always have very pleasant feelings, it was a great time. Then I was such a happy, innocent dreamer. The Olympics became an amazing, bright event in my life.

    But I dreamed of a different life after the Games. I thought she would be more fun. I didn’t want to think about doping, then about the situation in Ukraine. I became more mature, learned a lot, and realized that life is not always the way we see it in our dreams. I must be ready for anything.

    — What went wrong after the Olympics in Sochi?

    — After it, long years of darkness began, which caused me a lot of trauma. My personal relationships deteriorated, there was a doping scandal, and now the situation in Ukraine. Times since 2015 have been really dark, I haven't had as much fun. But I still decided to live in Russia, I want to be happy, I want to do what makes me happy, ride a bike a lot, freeride snowboarding in the mountains.

    br>

    — Sochi 2014 is also about your love with Alena Zavarzina. Is this painful or pleasant to remember today?

    — Of course, these are pleasant memories. We remained friends. Usually I don't feel sad thinking about it. That Olympics was a very bright moment for me and for her.

    — Will it ever be like at the Olympics in Sochi? Do you believe that in the future Russia will host the Olympics again, that athletes from all countries will come here?

    — I really hope so. I would be very happy if the world opened up again. I wish we could all work together, love each other. I think everyone wants this.

    — Do you want to go to the Olympics in 2026 to remember the sensations of Sochi 2014?

    — That would be cool.

    “I had lucky dirty socks”
    — Did you have any funny moments at the Olympics? Have you done anything to attract good luck? Maybe you slept with a snowboard before the start?

    —I didn’t sleep with a snowboard, I just wore the same socks at both starts where I won gold, because I considered them lucky. Yes, I only had dirty socks, I didn’t do anything else.

    — Were there any parties during the Olympics? Parties for snowboarders? It's no secret that athletes sometimes like to have a lot of fun.

    — Unfortunately, it didn't work out. We wanted to hang out on the last night, but it ended up not being so fun, we got home very early. There weren't many bars in the Olympic Village.

    When I returned to Moscow I had a party with friends, it was really great. Then I flew to my hometown in America, where my friends had a big party, there were those with whom I had been friends since childhood, they were so happy for me. It didn't matter that I won gold for Russia, they were just very happy.

    After the Olympics I just exhaled and said to myself: “Yes, I did it!” Then I rested for two weeks. To be honest, I don’t like big parties or weddings. I'm just a chill guy.

    — Do you keep in touch with someone from that Olympic team? Do you communicate with figure skaters?

    – Rarely, but I communicate. For example, with Ruslan Zakharov. I didn’t have time to make many friends at the Olympics because I was training. I can say that I know Evgeni Plushenko, sometimes I see him with his family.

    — Do you remember Vitaly Mutko, the Minister of Sports at that time? Maybe you have a funny incident in store for him?

    – Yes, of course, I remember him. But I can't remember anything funny with him. I can only say that he is very friendly and always helped everyone.

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