What's the one thing most people remember about the introduction of snowboarding to the Winter Olympics twelve years ago in Nagano, Japan?
To the delight of sports page headline writers around the world, Canadian Ross Rebagliati -- the first snowboarder to win Olympic gold -- was found to have weed smoking up his circulatory system and was stripped of his slalom medal. He got it back eventually (marijuana deemed not to be a performance enhancer, and not on the Olympics' list of banned substances at the time either), and for a hero's welcome upon his his return to Vancouver he found fans waving "Roll a fatty for Rebagliati!" banners.
Rebagliati spent the next decade trying to outlive the punchlines and the international incident pretty much stoned his pro snowboarding career, but he's been in the news up North quite a bit lately all the same: His memoir Off The Chain: An Insider's History of Snowboarding was published in November, he's running for political office representing Canada's Liberal Party (doesn't stand a chance, according to most analysts, but still), and this week he pushed a skateboard for 300 meters of the Olympic torch relay, passing the joint along on its way to the Olympic Winter Games opening ceremony on February 22.
Rebagliati's still apparently afflicted with reefer madness: He took the opportunity of the Olympic PR moment to carry the torch for marijuana legalization.
Via The Globe and Mail:
"Prohibition didn't work; this isn't working," he said after running with the torch, which some have even said resembles a giant joint. "You look at the numbers; it's not helping by throwing people in jail. I think the thing we can focus on is helping people with addictions, taking a proactive view. How can we help people rather than throw them in jail?"
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To which we say: Totally off the chain, eh?
For more Olympic-sized mishaps, see our Top 10 Winter Olympics Scandals and Screw-ups (Rebagliati makes the cut at #7).