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Ross Rebagliati's Liberal candidacy goes up in smoke

Olympic snowboarder and potential Liberal candidate Ross Rebagliati gives an interview in Toronto on Nov. 30, 2009.

Fernando Morales/Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

Olympic gold medalist Ross Rebagliati doesn't think his snowboard can compete with Stockwell Day's Jet Ski in the next federal election.

"For personal and family reasons, it is with regret that I must step down as the Liberal candidate in Okanagan-Coquihalla," Mr. Rebagliati said in a news release Friday. "I remain steadfast in my support for the Liberal Party of Canada and our Leader Michael Ignatieff, but the time has come for me to focus on new life challenges."

Mr. Rebagliati is as famous for testing positive for marijuana, having his gold taken away and then later reinstated, as he is for winning the first-ever gold medal for snowboarding in the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

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He announced in October, 2009, that he was seeking the Liberal nod in the B.C. Interior riding. He faced stiff competition, however, since the seat has been held since 2000 by Mr. Day - the Treasury Board President who once conducted a news conference in a wetsuit having arrived by personal water craft.

Mr. Rebagliati's musings about the future of the monarchy had caused the Liberals some grief in February, but he and the Liberal Leader shared ambition to engage more young people in politics.

"I am sorry to lose Ross as a candidate, but I am thankful to have him as a friend," Mr. Ignatieff said in the Liberal news release. "Political life can be very demanding, especially when you have a young family. I will fondly remember the time we spent together this summer in the Okanagan on the Liberal Express and all the visits to British Columbia where Ross's support and dedication were always appreciated."

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