Has Sochi had its first athlete protest?

Russia's Alexey Sobolev shows off his snowboard design as he competes in the Men's Snowboard Slopestyle qualifications.


Russian snowboarder Alexey Sobolev may have been the first athlete to make a statement of protest at the Sochi Olympics.

Sobolev was the first Russian to compete in the games during qualification runs for slopestyle snowboard. After crashing at the end of his second run, he held up his board with an interesting design in front of a slew of TV cameras.

The design on his board depicts a knife-wielding woman wearing a ski mask or balaclava, which is what the members of the feminist punk rock band Pussy Riot wear when they perform.

Russian news agency R-Sport asked Sobolev earlier if the design was a nod in support of the band.

"Anything is possible," Sobolev told R-Sport, also telling the reporter that he was not the designer of the board.

In December, two Pussy Riot band members were released from prison under an "amnesty law," after they had been incarcerated on a charge of hooliganism in connection with a performance in the winter of 2012 in which the band denounced Russian President Vladmir Putin.