Wel­come to the Olymp-X

Surf­ing? Skate­board­ing? Rock climb­ing? This isn’t the Games that you know. But does the IOC know what it’s try­ing to ac­com­plish?

Inside Sport - - CONTENTS - BY TRAVIS CRAN­LEY

LONGLIVE GAMESISDEAD. THEOLYMPIC GAMERS, X,WHEREVIDEO THEOLYMP- BREAKDANC ERS DERSAND SKATEBOAR TORCHPASSED TOCARRYTHE STANDREADY OWENS,CLAY, LEGENDSLIKE DOWNFROM ANDFREEMAN. BIKILA, FRASER

O ne day, out­side the Olympic Mu­seum in Lau­sanne, they will erect a statue of Ross Re­bagliati. It will stand ten me­tres tall, tow­er­ing over the gaudy gim­micks of phys­i­cal ex­cel­lence that oth­er­wise crowd the en­trance: a high jump bar set at world-record height, a long jump pit de­not­ing the world record leap, the far­thest dis­tance a man and wo­man have hurled a shot­put. For the statue’s plaque, they will steal from Sonny Lis­ton’s tomb­stone in Las Ve­gas, tweak­ing for ad­jec­ti­val ef­fect the great­est epi­taph in sport. It will read: “Ross Re­bagliati. An Olymp-X man.”

Wait, Ross who? Re­bagliati is a Cana­dian who holds a spe­cial place in Olympic his­tory. He was the first win­ner of a snow­board­ing gold medal, back when the sport was in­tro­duced to the Win­ter Games pro­gram at Nagano in 1998. He was also the first gold-medal­list done in for likely light­ing up a doo­bie, or par­ty­ing in a doo­bie-intensive en­vi­ron­ment, when he was stripped of his medal three days af­ter com­pe­ti­tion for test­ing pos­i­tive for THC, a con­stituent of mar­i­juana.

Re­begliati, how­ever, never gave his medal back, and ul­ti­mately was al­lowed to keep it af­ter em­bar­rassed Olympic of­fi­cials, des­per­ate to back-pedal out of a first-up in­ter­na­tional con­tro­versy for the sport, ruled it was, well, um, okay by them if a snow­boarder tested pos­i­tive for a lit­tle weed. Bong on, Rossy!

The Re­bagliati saga is raised here be­cause it was the first time that Gen-X sports col­lided with more than a cen­tury of Olympic tra­di­tion. Snow­board­ing, back then, was the cul­tural cri­sis that was to de­stroy the Olympic move­ment.

The Sum­mer Games had just sur­vived the in­tro­duc­tion of beach vol­ley­ball – Sand! Biki­nis! Fans hav­ing fun! – at At­lanta 1996, and now came snow­board­ers, with their baggy clothes and dyed hair and freespir­ited life­style choices. Not a beige­coloured blazer be­tween the bunch of them! The old men of the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee (IOC) har­rumphed all the way back to their free bar.

The first snow­board goldmedal­list, Ross Re­bagliati of Canada: the pa­tron saint of the Olymp-X.

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