This week we talk to Canadian Olympic hero Ross Rebagliati, who on February 8, 1998, made history in Nagano by winning the first ever gold medal for snowboarding.
The thing that you eat that is bad for you that you will never stop eating: Anything I want.
Default drink: Beer.
Drink you’ll never have again: Buckley’s.
Best thing about the Okanagan in the Winter: No rain and great snowboarding.
Best thing about the Okanagan in the Summer: Sunshine and outdoor sports.
Best hotel room ever: Presidential suite at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA (for appearance on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno).
Best snowboarding mountains in Canada: Whistler/Blackcomb, Red Mountain, White Water, Big White, Apex.
Top three mountains in the world: Whistler/Blackcomb, Whister – Naeba, Japan – St. Anton, Austria.
Best coffee in the Okanagan: The coffee I make
Book you’re reading: My own book – “Off The Chain” will be released to the public Nov. 15th.
Last place traveled: Italy, to coach my snowboard camps in Bardonecchia.
Biggest fear: Not being able to live my live the way I choose.
Best sneaker in the world: North Stars (haven’t seen them since the 70’s).
Your ancestry: Italian.
Under what circumstances would you join the army: If Canada asked me to.
Your paternal grandfather’s personal story: Came from Italy and settled in Lytton.
Favourite snowboarding trick: One that you’ve have had dialed in for years: 360 Method.
Dumbest purchase ever: New truck.
What are you proud of: Being Canadian, my wife and son.
The thing that makes you the angriest: Getting busted for nothing at the Olympics.
The view from your favourite window: In Whistler, the peak of Whistler Mountain.
Favourite ice cream flavour: Jamocha Almond Fudge.
Most beautiful body of water: Surfing in Costa Rica on the Osa Peninsula.
Food your mom makes better than anyone: Apple crumble.
The trend you wish you never followed, but did: Getting a cell phone.
Musical instrument you long to master: Electric guitar.
Who were you mentors in snowboarding: Craig Kelly, Terry Kidwell, Shaun Palmer.
The game you’re best at: Need for Speed.
Mac or PC: PC
Favourite sports team: Canucks.
The number of fist fights you’ve been in: None.
The scariest situation you’ve ever been in: Snowboarding in Alaska.
Three things of no value that you will keep until you die: Everything I have has value to me.
Local person you admire most: Greg Moore.
The thing you’re most ashamed of: Embarrassing Canada at the Olympics (thanks Dick Pound).
Best concert experience ever: Tool.
Pick one restaurant for each city – Vancouver, Kelowna, Whistler: Topanga (Vancouver), Cabana (Kelowna), Trattoria (Whistler).
The dish you’re proud of: I love to cook, so I have tons of dishes I am proud of…learned to cook living in Italy for 10 years while racing on the World Cup.
The thing that makes you the most nervous: Avalanches.
Town you were born in: North Vancouver.
Old television shows you can tolerate re-runs of:Sienfield.
First memory:Driving a pretend race car made from an old speed boat dash board.
What are you listening to as you answer these questions: Bob Marley.
Album that first made you love music:The Beatles’ White Album.
Default junk food: Chocolate-covered licorice.
Favourite book as a child: Where the Wild Things Are.
The career path you considered but never followed: Car racing – getting into it now!
Thing you miss most about home when you’re on the road: My family (wife, son, 2 dogs, 1 cat, 3 fish and a snail).
Three websites you visit every day: cnn.com, theOREC.com, tsn.com.
The first three things you do every morning: Watch the news, make a coffee, walk the dogs.
The thing you’re addicted to: Speed and danger.
Biggest hope: To be able to take care of my family.
Luckiest moment of your life: Discovering snowboarding, finding my wife and having the best son in the world!
Breaking records from day one
Born in 1971, Ross took to the mountains at an early age. With his snowboard in hand, he moved to Whistler in 1990 to pursue his dream of becoming a world-class athlete. In 1991, Ross took top position at the Canadian and U.S. Amateur Snowboard Championships. As the years moved forward so did Ross’ winning streak. Over the next few years, Ross took home a gold medal both at the Mount Baker Banked Slalom (1992) and the U.S. Open (1994). Following his win at the U.S. Open, Ross travelled to Germany to compete in and the European Championships. There Ross not only carved his way to the finish line and the top spot on the podium but was the first non-European to win at the European Championships.
Racing into the pages of history
With the European Championship win under his belt, Ross focused his training on winning the 1996 World Cup in his hometown of Whistler, B.C. Surrounded by Canadian fans and neighbours, Ross raced to the finish line to take home the winning medal.
Making its Olympic debut in 1998, snowboarding was quickly becoming known as the world’s ground-breaking new sport. At the Olympic snowboarding giant slalom race, Ross competed with the world’s top athletes. His years of training and endurance paid off, as he raced to victory and brought home the gold medal for Canada.
Inspiring future Olympians
Ross has been able to take his love of the sport to reach out to youth in the community. As an active member of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Ross has helped grant the wishes of children from as far away as Florida. Ross’ name and offer of a snowboarding lesson can be seen on silent auction ballots for many local charities including the Whistler Rotary Club and B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. Always happy to meet with upcoming Olympic hopefuls, Ross is an active participant at annual events hosted by the Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver and Kids Help Phone.
A home-grown hero
Visitors to Whistler now have the opportunity to take a run down Ross’ Gold at Blackcomb and take a stroll in Rebagliati Park.