Russia’s Alexey Sobolev stepped out on Thursday morning at the qualifiers sporting his snowboarding suit, bib and a silver helmet bearing his phone number in bright blue digits. By Saturday his cell had given up temporarily, inundated by an avalanche of texts and naked photos from women around the world.
“Most of the messages are good luck messages and messages from the girls,” Sobolev told the AP. “Some of the messages are not appropriate to read aloud.”
It seems the 22-year-old snowboarder is determined to grab headlines despite failing to make the men’s slopestyle finals.
Thursday’s slopestyle stunt was paired with a whiff of controversy over his board, which was painted with a woman closely resembling a member of protest punk band, Pussy Riot, who’s long been at the center of a political row with the Russian government.
While Sobolev shied away from the attention the caricature on his board has brought, saying he didn’t design it and wasn’t sure if it was Pussy Riot, he’s certainly seizing upon the buzz surrounding his helmet stunt.
The IOC may have made Sobolev tape up the number on Saturday morning, but the number had already been widely circulated and seen by thousands through social media, photographs and a Russian TV station.
“I’m definitely going to call them,” Sobolev told Yahoo Sports, though it’s hard to imagine he’ll be able to respond to all of them. At last tally, there were over 2,000 and counting.