Snowboarder is first American to compete for Russia in Winter Olympics
In 2011, Wild quit Team USA, moved to Russia, became a citizen, and married Russian Alpine snowboarder Alena Zavarzina, who he had been dating and who had just won a world championship in January of that year.
Though he harbors no ill will toward the American team, Wild expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of coaching and help he was experiencing. Maintaining a long-distance relationship while continuing his struggling snowboarding career would have been difficult, so a coach suggested he change countries. And so he did.
“It was a little bit crazy, but I wasn’t that worried about it,” Wild told NBC. “I knew it would give me an opportunity to stay with Alena, which she was really important to me at the time. And also it would give me a chance to reach my goals in snowboarding. I knew that if I gave up, stopped, then I would probably be bitter about it.”
After looking at the photo of Snowboarder Alena Zavarzina in the article, I’m pretty sure I’d move to Russia for her too.