There's only one Ross Rebagliati -- and he's not a lying, scheming drunkard, says the Olympic snowboarding champ.
Rebagliati is suing the people behind the Canadian teen drama Whistler, claming misappropriation of personality, breach of privacy and defamation. He says the show's central character, also an Olympic gold medal-winning snowboarder with blonde hair and blue eyes, is an unflattering rip-off of his persona.
"I have absolutely nothing to do with the show and I find the character reprehensible," Rebagliati told reporters at a press conference yesterday. "People are drawing the comparison almost immediately."
The character, played by actor David Paetkau, is portrayed in an unsavoury light.
"He is a drunk driver, he is a blackmailer," said Rebagliati's lawyer, Joyce Thayer.
But the people behind the show say Rebagliati's comments are baseless.
"Simply put, there is no connection," the show's executive producers wrote in a joint statement. "... The creator, writers and producers of Whistler are not familiar with any details of Mr. Rebagliati's personal life."
Rebagliati's statement of claim, filed yesterday, names show creator Kelly Senecal, Boardwatch Productions, and the CTV television network as defendants. He doesn't specify the amount of damages he's seeking.
Halfway through its first season, Whistler has not garnered particularly lofty ratings. Rebagliati said he accepts the publicity of his lawsuit could draw viewers to the show.
"I think the main thing is it's setting the record straight."