Rebagliati knows marijuana controversy as much a part of him as Olympic gold medal

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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KELOWNA, B.C. - Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati realizes that he's as well known for his marijuana controversy as his Olympic gold medal.
But the 38-year-old father, author and want-to-be politician says it's a "sign of the times" that he can still be accepted.
"I had issues," Vancouver-born Rebagliati said at recent book-signing event in his new hometown of Kelowna, B.C. "Most people have issues, so I think they can identify with me."
That controversy, which is part of his new book, "Off the Chain: An Insider's History of Snowboarding," came shortly after Rebagliati won the first-ever snowboarding gold medal at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
He was later stripped of his medal after traces of marijuana were found in his urine. Rebagliati protested, claiming it had been from second-hand smoke. He got the gold medal back when it determined marijuana was not a performance-enhancing drug.
While a colourful past is great for books, it isn't always so for politics.
That didn't stop Rebagliati from seeking the federal Liberal party nomination for the Okanagan-Coquihalla riding.
He won the nomination by acclamation last month, but is expected to have trouble beating International Trade Minister Stockwell Day, a Conservative, during the next election.
As for his book, "Off the Chain" - which is boarder slang for extreme - Rebagliati said it's a combination memoir and history of snowboarding.
"Snowboarding isn't a very old sport, so it starts with a bit of the early days and then takes off really in 1987, when I started snowboarding," he said. "Back then, the sport was so new and considered rebellious that we weren't even allowed on Canadian ski hills. Some of these early photos of me where taken in Washington state, where we could get on the slopes."
Between the book and the run-up to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, Rebagliati said he'll be making a lot of public appearances.
Since winning his gold medal, Rebagliati has dabbled in land development and construction in Whistler and Kelowna. He also has run snowboarding camps in Europe and North America.
Rebagliati is married and has a six-month-old son.

Organizations: International Trade

Geographic location: KELOWNA, Vancouver, Nagano Japan Whistler Washington Europe North America

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