The fingers signaled the pair's one-two finish as Zyemtsev won Sunday's ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta.
"It's my first 70.3 title. It's great," said Zyemtsev, 38. "I pushed a lot harder the last couple miles."
Zyemtsev, who trains in Florida and New Mexico, finished third last year and improved two spots with his 3:47.15. Defending champion Kriat, who said he has been friends with Zyemtsev for more than 10 years, clocked in at 3:49.34, while Tim Berkel came in third a little more than two minutes behind Kriat.
Emma-Kate Lidbury, 31, of the United Kingdom was the top woman, posting 4:19.31, more than six minutes faster than Amanda Lovato, of Boulder, Colo., who came in fourth last year.
Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver finished in 6:19.26.
The first participants hit the water at 7:30 a.m., swimming for 1.2 miles in the Savannah River before moving to the bike portion, which lasted 56 miles and crossed into South Carolina. After that came a 13.1-mile run.
After some light rain at the start of the competition, there were cloudy skies until the sun came out a little before 11 a.m. After a few hours of sun, the clouds and some rain returned with lightning. The competition was stopped at 5 p.m. because of the weather.
A race official said at least three competitors were sent to the hospital because of heat-related problems.
Brinsley Thigpen, the Augusta Sports Council's chief executive officer, said she was pleased with how the day went.
More than 3,000 people competed, and many were cheered on by family and friends. Watchers were armed with their voices, noisemakers like vuvuzelas and held cameras.
Some onlookers held signs or stood out with specialized shirts reading "Nice legs!" and "My hubby is my Ironman."
Christina Cusack was there to watch her boyfriend, Jon Clark, who lives in Florida. Competing for the second time in Augusta, Clark suffers from seizures but drank a lot of fluids and rested after his most recent seizure.
Cusack said Clark felt fine Sunday morning, so he decided to race. He finished at 6:37.59.
"He really is my Ironman in every way," Cusack said.
As for the leaders, Zyemtsev quickly made up ground on the five-minute edge Kyle Leto had entering the run stage.
Zyemtsev finished the run in 1:13.20. Kriat, 27, ran it at 1:15.44, but he had to battle to get to the end.
"How far is it? How far is it?" Kriat said he remembers thinking over the last two miles.
Lidbury also won the Ironman 70.3 Mallorca and the Ironman 70.3 UK this year. She said she moved into the lead Sunday on the fifth mile of her run.
Lidbury also had an inauspicious start, missing the part where she was supposed to come out of the water. She said she swam past the start of the transition area before correcting and going on to another victory.
Once she reached the end, she raised the tape over her head like a championship belt.
"It's topping off a really great year," she said.