Russian snowboarder Alexey Sobolev might be the first Russian athlete to protest politically at the Sochi Olympics with an image of a woman wearing a balaclava holding up a knife, as the punk band Pussy Riot is known for wearing balaclavas at their shows. Further, he also got a lot of attention for putting his phone number on his helmet and it has been reported that he may have gotten as many as 2000 messages, including nude pictures from various girls. Fans from all over Russia, the Olympic host country, reached out to the snowboarder. Some might go as far as labeling him the “Rock Star of the Olympics.”
It has previously been reported that the punk band Pussy Riot has run into conflicts with police and authorities in the Olympic capital Sochi since early this week. The first report was of them being detained by officers as a result of a suspected theft at the hotel they were staying at. Further, it was reported that they were possibly forced to talk while their lawyer was still driving over to the police station.
Only a day later, videos and news went all over the internet of them tempting a guerrilla shoot for a music video in the Olympic capital, during which they were attacked by the police. Reporters and Journalists are rumored to have been hurt in the clash, though severe injuries have not yet been documented.
According to his bio on Sochi Olympics’ official site, Alexey Sobolev first took up the sport of snowboarding at age 9 by simply asking his parents for a Snowboard, to which they apparently did not protest, and thus the young Russian athlete’s journey began. Further, according to his bio, he likes to go for a drive before competitions as it helps him relax. He also has a motto of “Don’t say ‘I can’t’ until you’ve tried it.” He also holds an awarded title of “Master of Sport of International Class” in Russia.
Sobolev participated in this year Olympic slopestyle event, a snowboarding course that American snowboarder and athletic celebrity Shaun White opted out of due to safety concerns, and there have further been stories of conditions at the Olympic venue this year.
Sobolev arrived with the top of his board flashing the artwork picture of a woman wearing a balaclava wielding a knife. The Pussy Riot band is notoriously famous for their usage of balaclavas during their shows, with some of their members even keeping their identities secret and using alternate names. The knife-wielding woman could further by some people be interpreted as a metaphor for the conflict and battle of the cause.
When confronted about his board, Sobolev is reported to have said that anything is possible, and further that he’s not the artist who designed the board. According to accounts, he also refused to say whether or not he is a fan of Pussy Riot. Whether Russian president Putin’s administration is subtly being challenged or not, snowboarder Alexey Sobolev may very well be the first Russian athlete to protest at the Olympics Sochi.
By Halldor Fannar Sigurgeirsson