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Times Colonist - Snowboard Champion Settles Suit

Blog by | April 30th, 2008

Snowboard champion settles suit

Rebagliati says CTV defamed him in series

Canwest News Service

Published: Friday, April 25, 2008

Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Ross Rebagliati has won a financial settlement from CTV for "defaming" him by creating a blond, blue-eyed party animal as a key character in its Whistler TV series.

Rebagliati, who won a gold medal for Canada at the first ever Olympic snowboarding competition at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, launched a lawsuit in 2006 when CTV introduced its Whistler TV show, promoted as an exposé of the elite snow sports and high-living community in the international resort town north of Vancouver.

Rebagliati said his website, e-mail and Facebook sites were flooded by comments from people who found the central character Beck McKaye to be startling like Rebagliati.

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"He lived in Whistler, he was the same height, had the same colour hair, the same haircut and wore the same red jacket with white sleeves that I wore on the podium in 1998 when I got my gold medal," Rebagliati said yesterday.

"They didn't directly connect the character to the controversy surrounding my medal but through innuendo and general sterotyping implied that he was unsavoury or had brushes with the law -- it was a real cheap shot."

Rebagliati said he was particularly incensed because he offered to aid CTV when he first heard of the Whistler show.

However, Rebagliati said yesterday he doesn't hold a grudge and would even like to work for the network, which is the host broadcast TV network for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, which will feature Whistler in its alpine events.

CTV spokeswoman Bonnie Brownlee would say only that "the lawsuit has been settled out of court" and would not divulge any details.