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First Person: Ross Rebagliati

Making a comeback



1998 Olympic gold medallist announces plans to compete in 2010

In many ways Ross Rebagliati’s story is already woven into the fabric of Whistler. After winning the first ever Olympic gold medal for snowboarding in the giant slalom in the 1998 Olympic Games at Nagano, Ross has had a park and a ski run named in his honour. His plaque was included with other past Olympians and Paralympians like Steve Podborski, Rob Boyd and John Smart at the World Cup Square in Creekside, and next month he’ll be inducted into the B.C. Hall of Fame.

At the age of 34 he could sit back and enjoy his past accomplishments, but last week Ross announced he would doing the opposite – making a comeback on the World Cup circuit, with plans to represent Canada at home in 2010.

The format for the sport has changed, the technology has changed, and the international competition is tougher than ever, but Rebagliati is confident he can return to the scene even better than he was in 1998.

It was a surprising decision for some, but Ross says he knew it was coming all along.

Pique: That’s a big decision to make. Where did the decision to make a comeback come from?

Ross Rebagliati: I guess I knew a few years ago, leading up to Vancouver and Whistler winning the bid for 2010. I was involved in the plebiscite, I was involved in Vancouver and Whistler’s bid in the early stages, and I knew way back that I was going to have to try and make a comeback if we won the bid.

All along, in the back of my mind I knew what I was thinking, and it just started surfacing more and more and more until finally this year I started riding my race board again after not riding it for about four years.

Pique: How did that feel?

RR: A lot better than I was expecting. A lot more of my ability was there than I was expecting. It was also a breath of fresh air too, because I’ve been away from the scene for a number of years. I wouldn’t have probably taken that much time off my race board if my life wasn’t so hectic after the Olympics in 1998, but I did, and it gave me an opportunity to assess the situation, and it revived the drive for me to continue racing – and for completely different reasons than I had before.

One of those reasons is to be able to compete in the Games that Vancouver and Whistler have been trying to get now since the beginning. Whistler exists because we were trying to get the Olympics, the original runs were cut because we were trying to get the Olympics, the village was built to try to get the Olympics.