Russian Olympic snowboarder Alexey Sobolev knows how to
get a girlfriend keep the public interested. On Thursday, he competed with a board that featured a woman in a red ski mask – the same outfit members of Pussy Riot wore when they were arrested last year in Moscow.
Here's Sobolev with a close-up shot of his board, care of USA Today sports reporter Lindsay Jones:
— Jo bdew it (@JobdeWit) February 6, 2014
Though he decided to comically lay down and pose with the board like a sexy supermodel after his qualifying run during men's slopestyle snowboarding, Sobolev wouldn't confirm that it was a homage to Pussy Riot. He did say that he didn't design it; it's from StepChild Snowboards, a Canadian company. Update: StepChild Snowboards has released a statement saying that the board wasn't intended to mean what people think it does:
if you guys have seen it we recently made international news when one of our 14/15 models the "Kam Knife" got mistaken for an anti-Putin/Russian Government propaganda tool at the Sochi 2014 Olympic games when Russian rider Alexey Sobolev hit the slopestyle course. Basically international media thought that the graphic was to support jailed activist band Pussy Riot, a band that the Russian government really don't like. Of course we never intended 10 months ago when we designed the board that it would be on the feet of an olympian and that the media would blow something up so hilariously small as a top sheet graphic to top news pages around the world (huffington post, yahoo sports, latimes, cbc). Just to say, we support human rights and being able to say whatever the fuck you want, but we did not intend the 14/15 Kam Knife to be a political statement… its just a chick in a balaclava with a knife. nothing more.
Cementing his bad boy status, Sobolev also put his cell phone number on his helmet during the same run, which Jones reports got him about 2,000 texts. "I've got a collection of pictures," he said. "It's really boring in the Olympic Village, you know?" No...we don't know.
Soblev will be competing again on Saturday to see if he makes it to the finals, but without the phone number on the back of his helmet; he's been told he has to cover up any writing. If you'd like to some of his actual snowboarding skills and not just fawn over your new Olympic crush, here's some GoPro footage from the top of his helmet.
Image via Cameron Spencer/Getty