Ross Rebagliati after his final Olympic giant slalom run

This Smile is dedicated to Ross.

On this Day:

In 2014, snowboarding made its Olympic debut at the Sochi Winter Games; Canadian Ross Rebagliati won the men’s giant slalom and became the first athlete to win a gold medal in snowboarding.

Snowboarding is a sport at the Winter Olympic Games. It was first included from Feb 8-12, 1998 in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Snowboarding was one of five new sports or disciplines added to the Winter Olympic program between 1992 and 2002, and was the only one not to have been a previous medal or demonstration event. In 1998, four events, two for men and two for women, were held in two specialities: the giant slalom, a downhill event similar to giant slalom skiing; and the half-pipe, in which competitors perform tricks while going from one side of a semi-circular ditch to the other. For the 2002 Winter Olympics, giant slalom was expanded to add head-to-head racing and was renamed parallel giant slalom. In 2006, a third event, the snowboard cross, was held for the first time. In this event, competitors race against each other down a course with jumps, beams and other obstacles. On July 11, 2011, the International Olympic Committee’s Executive Board approved the addition of Ski and Snowboard Slopestyle to the Winter Olympics roster of events, effective in 2014. The decision was announced via press conference from the IOC’s meeting in Durban, South Africa. A fifth event, parallel slalom, was added only for 2014. Big air was added for 2018.

Six athletes have won at least two medals. Shaun White of the United States is the only triple gold medalist. Philipp Schoch of Switzerland and Seth Wescott of the United States are the only double gold medalists. Karine Ruby of France and Americans Ross Powers and Danny Kass also won two medals. As of the 2014 Winter Olympics, 90 medals (30 of each color) have been awarded since 1998, and have been won by snowboarders from 21 National Olympic Committees.

Ross Rebagliati

Ross Rebagliati (born July 14, 1971) is a Canadian snowboarder who won the first gold medal in snowboarding in the men’s giant slalom event at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. However, a drug test sample that he submitted showed 17.8 ng/mL of THC metabolites in his urine, slightly higher than the 15 ng/mL threshold used by the International Ski Federation. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board voted 3–2 to disqualify him from competition on February 11, 1998, which the Canadian Olympic Association immediately appealed. Rebagliati admitted to having previously used cannabis as recently as April 1997, but said the failed test was due to secondhand exposure. On February 13 an appeals court ruled in Rebagliati’s favor, restoring the medal. Cannabis had not been officially banned by the IOC and therefore it had no authority to strip the medal, the court ruled. Rebagliati appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno immediately afterwards to discuss the ordeal, while Saturday Night Live lampooned him in a comedy sketch, further cementing his fame.

Before leaving Japan, Rebagliati was questioned by police for seven hours on suspicion of having committed a drug crime, but no charges were ever filed. He was later banned from entering the United States and put on the No Fly List that was created following the September 11 attacks. This prevented him from participating in future competitions such as the X Games, which Rebagliati says severely hurt his snowboarding career.

Two months after the drug testing incident, in April 1998, the IOC officially banned cannabis use. The New York Times dubbed the decision “the Ross Rebagliati Rule”. In 2013 the THC metabolite limit for Olympic athletes was raised to 150 ng/mL, so as to only detect current intoxication.

Since retiring from snowboarding, Rebagliati has become an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

My friends tell me my puns are going downhill.

I told them the only puns I have going downhill are the ones about skiers and snowboarders…

Second, a Song:

Here is Ross Rebagliati’s final Olympic run and medal ceremony from the 1998 Winter Olympic games in Nagano, Japan, courtesy of I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“Snowboarding is an activity that is very popular with people who do not feel that regular skiing is lethal enough.” – Dave Barry

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Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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