Russia’s Victor Wild, a native of Washington state, won two gold medals in snowboarding for Russia in Sochi. He was upset with US funding for the sport.
The New York Daily News reported:
Growing up in White Salmon (pop. 2,224), Wild, 27, was enamoured of Austrian skiing great Herman Maier, but eventually fell in love with snowboarding. He became an elite athlete and competed for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, before getting frustrated about a lack of resources for downhill snowboarders (as opposed to halfpipe and slopestyle disciplines). He married Russian snowboarder Alena Zavarzina in 2011 and became a Russian citizen, and found a federation willing to meet his every need in advance of the approaching Games.
Russia’s Victor An, from South Korea, won three gold medals in Sochi.
An chose Russia for obvious reasons.
After his triple gold-medal performance for South Korea at the 2006 Olympics, Ahn suffered a major knee injury in 2008, which kept him out of the 2010 games. Ahn reportedly felt South Korea’s skating federation was not devoting enough time and resources to help one of its top talents back to peak form, so he went looking for a new home.
Ahn, 28, and his father narrowed their options down to Russia and the United States, according to a New York Times profile from earlier this month. Russia won out for a few reasons. First, its skating program offered less internal competition and an easier path to the Olympics. Second, Russian authorities reportedly made naturalizing “very, very easy” for Ahn, as opposed to the bureaucratic morass he would have had to wade through in the U.S. And, as with Wild, financial support helped.