The once-renegade sport of snowboarding crashed into the Olympic mainstream in rousing fashion as Canada's Ross Rebagliati shredded his way through heavy fog to win gold in the men's giant slalom.
Italy's Thomas Prugger took the silver and Switzerland's Ueli Kestenholz got the bronze as the United States was shut out of the medals today (Saturday night EST).But the sport itself was the real winner, taking its spot on the Olympic stage for the first time and injecting the games with a shot of youthful vitality.
Rebagliati, who was eighth after the first run, carved a super second run to win in an aggregate time of 2 minutes, 3.96 seconds. Prugger was second in 2:03.98 and Kestenholz third in 2:04.08.
First-run leader Jasey-Jay Anderson of Canada and Chris Klug of the United States, who was tied for second, both struggled in the foggy conditions on the second run and finished out of the medals. Klug nearly fell, touching the snow with one hand to stay upright and losing valuable time. He finished the second run in 1:05.87 and wound up sixth at 2:05.25.
Anderson slipped down on his second round and finished 13th in 2:11.33.
With their rebel image, hip-hop look, grunge lingo and thrash-metal music, snowboarders certainly bring a new dimension to the staid Olympics.
But the weather almost wrecked the party.
The first run was held under bright, sunny skies at Mount Yakebitai, but the second run was nearly wiped out by the same front that postponed the men's downhill in Hakuba earlier in the day.