Article by Ian Hanomansing, CBC News
“It has been a wild ride.”
Ross Rebagliati could have been describing his athletic adventure 20 years ago in Nagano.
His gold medal win in the first-ever Olympic snowboarding event came as such a surprise, even well-briefed sports broadcasters had no idea how to pronounce his name.
That was just the beginning of an Olympic drama like none other.
Rebagliati was disqualified for having cannabis in his system, then reinstated after declaring he hadn’t smoked dope for almost a year leading up to the games.
His explanation — that he had been to parties in Whistler, B.C., where people around him were using cannabis — went viral before that was a thing.
Rebagliati wasn’t just a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He prompted one of Leno’s most memorable quips, comparing President Bill Clinton (who said he smoked marijuana but didn’t inhale) to the snowboard gold medallist (who said he inhaled but didn’t smoke).
But in a sit-down with CBC News earlier this month in Kelowna, the wild ride Rebagliati was referring to is what happened next.
He hit rock star highs, even smoking cannabis backstage with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. Then the crashing lows of living in poverty in a trailer, turning the “6” on his street sign upside down to trick the repo man who was trying to take back his truck.