KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) Facing a nearly impossible deficit against a four-time world champion he'd never outraced, all the unorthodox choices snowboarder Vic Wild made to keep his career alive converged over 30 glorious seconds of perfection.
His banged-up body patched together by the best doctors his adopted country can provide, his perfectly assembled board riding like a lightning bolt, his newfound fans screaming his name and waving a very different kind of red, white and blue, the man who eschewed his homeland for his heart, made Olympic history.
Gold for Russia. Again. And maybe more than a little vindication too.
Snowboarding has come a long way since skateboard enthusiast Tom Sims began producing the first commercial boards in the 1970s. It became one of the most popular events at the Winter X Games in the 90s, and made its way into the mainstream of pop culture with the meteoric rise of American superstar Shaun White. The sport has continued to evolve since becoming a staple of the Winter Olympics in 1998. After the snowboard cross discipline was added to the program in 2006, slopestyle will make its debut in Sochi. White remains the main attraction, and has some new tricks up his sleeve as he goes for a third straight gold medal in the halfpipe.