Soon after this interview was conducted, a publicist from the International Management Group (the same agency that represents Joe Montana, John Madden, and—indeed—Itzhak Perlman) phoned Seattle Weekly to complain about the "lack of professionalism" on the part of our freelance interviewer, Nardwuar the Human Serviette, during his conversation with their client, Ross Rebagliati, the Canadian snowboarder who was famously, if temporarily, stripped of his 1998 Olympic Gold Medal after testing positive for marijuana. (Rebagliati won back his medal on appeal, claiming he had inhaled secondhand pot smoke.) As promised to the IMG publicist, we carefully reviewed Nardwuar's interview prior to publication and decided to pay him extra.—ed.
NARDWUAR: Who are you?
ROSS REBAGLIATI: I am just normal person, just a normal guy, um, doing something that's a little unusual.
Q: Ross, what do you look like now in 1998 on the mountain when you're snowboarding?
A: Ummm, pretty good, probably (laughs). Um, I don't know, kinda like, have you ever seen a slalom water skier?
Q: Do you wear any Spandex when you're racing? Because a lot of racers get teased for wearing Spandex.
A: Yeah, I've got to wear a speedsuit when I race. Yeah.
Q: For a long time you've been dressing up in some pretty crazy outfits, haven't you? I saw a Transworld Snowboard Magazine from 1988 with you on the cover, Ross, and you had "hockey hair" and a day-glow Westbeach headband!
A: That would be the '80s for ya!
Q: Do you ever remember snowboarder Damien Sanders and the stuff that he wore: that really really tight neon, and he always seemed to have a big bulge you know where that other snowboarders made fun of?
A: Yeah, Damien is a good friend of mine.
Q: Did you ever laugh at Damien's "bulge"?
Q: Ross, can you smash beer bottles over your head like they do in the "Whiskey 1, 2, 3, 4" snowboarding videos?
A: I don't know. I've never tried that before so . . . I don't know. Probably not.
Q: On the CD you recently compiled for Sony Music, Fulliedialiedinn, how come you picked the Bran Van 3000 over, say, NoFX, who are a snowboard band?
A: Well, there's a lot of different kinds of music on the CD and, um . . .
Q: Were you forced to choose some Canadian content?
A: It was all personal preference. There was nothing really, you know, nothing really hanging over me to choose one thing over another.
Q: Well, I guess I was a little bit curious because Mark Arm of the rock 'n' roll band Mudhoney snowboards. Fat Mike of NoFX, I think even broke his leg snowboarding. So I kind of thought those type of bands would creep up on your CD, Ross.
A: Well, the Beastie Boys are on it and they snowboard.
Q: What about Millencolin or Biohazard or Pennywise? Or Furnaceface! Have you heard of Furnaceface, that Canadian band? They have a song called "Two Punks, a Dad, and a Snowboard"!
A: Right. Um, I think it's just a difference in music style. My CD for Sony was pretty much a laid-back kind of CD that you won't really hear at a, you know, slam-dancing kind of party. I mean, I like all kinds of stuff. I wanted to put together a mellow and easy CD to listen to and not have a lot of really aggressive alternative music.
Q: Well, Ross Rebagliati, are you punk yourself?
A: I think you've got a stereotype of the average snowboarder engrained into your head. I think there's a lot of different kinds of people that ride and, um, there may have been a time in school, maybe 15 years ago, that you used to skateboard and skate around with a shaved head and whatever, but, you know, I was 15 years old. I'm 27 now and, um, I come from a ski-racing background and, uh, I haven't really associated myself that much with the alternative side of snowboarding.
Q: But, Ross, have you done any punk things? Like jumped off the chair at Whistler?
A: No (laughs).
Q: Do you think Craig Kelly of Mount Vernon was the godfather of snowboarding? Like, didn't he give you, like, 10 snowboards back in the '80s? And he got you your first sponsor?
A: Um, for me he was, pretty much. He got me started and gave me the confidence and the open door to kind of follow in his footsteps. He was one of the main guys I looked up to when I was up-and-coming. I was 15 at the time so I was pretty impressionable.
Q: Ross, what sponsorships were you offered after the Olympics? Did, like, Zig Zag approach you or anything like that?
A: Um, no, um, you know, Roots jumped on the wagon right away. And Briko was right there, and then Sony came across the table pretty quickly also. Prior to the Olympics I didn't have any sponsors.
Q: A friend of mine works a local snowboard shop and he said there were tons of hemp entrepreneurs who tried to sell him lots of your merchandise, like stickers that said, "Smoke a 'J' for Ross." Did you see any of this merchandise that kind of was generated after the Olympics?
A: "Smoke a fatty for Rebagliati" (laughs). Yeah, I've seen most of the stuff that came out after the Olympics. You know, it's for fun. There's not a whole lot I can say about it.
Q: Ross, in an interview in 1991 in Concrete Powder they asked you, "I've heard an infamous quote of yours floating around about your preferring to commit some terrible homosexual act over taking drugs." And you reply, "Holy shit! How did you hear about that? Oh man, I was set up!" And then you laugh.
A: Yeah. What about it? (laughs) . . . Yeah, I remember it was kind of spur-of-the-moment question. I wasn't really thinking about the question. I was thinking about the answer. But, um, when you're coming down the chairlift with a bunch of guys that are 10 years older than you and you are, you know, 14 or 15 and you haven't really been exposed to the real world yet, you know, um, there's pressure on you to either succumb to the pressure or be overcome by it, and I was doing my best to maintain my, uh, my . . .
A: And not find myself in a situation that I was uncomfortable with.
Q: Did you ever hotbox one of the old gondolas at Whistler?
A: Uh, snowboarding hadn't really started when that lift was running.
Q: But had you ever seen anybody do that? Because that's the legend of Whistler, isn't it?
A: Uh, it could be. It could be.
Q: And, Ross, there's all these neat things that happen at Whistler. Have you ever seen a guy do that trick where he puts a condom through his nose and out his mouth?
A: I haven't seen that.
Q: It's called "Do the Whistler!" . . . Is it hard for you to do stuff? You once said that you had to get your girlfriend to buy groceries for you because you will be recognized if you go out!
A: No, it's not that hard for me. I'd rather not buy groceries anyways. You know, I just send my girlfriend to the store with the credit card and let her do her thing and come home. I'm happy about it that way. It kind of gives me an opportunity to take care of a few other important things that I do.
Q: Well, thanks very much for your time, Ross. I really appreciate it. Anything else you would like to add to the people out there?
A: Stay real, man.
Q: All right! Well, keep on rockin' in the free world, Ross Rebagliati. And doot doola doot doo . . .
A: (laughs) OK, we'll talk to you later.
Q: Ross, doot doola doot doo . . .
A: Doot doo!
Nardwuars archived interviews with Kurt Cobain, Jan Brady, Dan Quail, Ron Jeremy, Henry Rollins, Michael Moore, Beck, Mikhail Gorbachev and more can be found at http://www.nardwuar.com/