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20 years later, a look back at the thrills and spills of the 1998 Winter Olympics

20 years later, a look back at the thrills and spills of the 1998 Winter Olympics
From Mashable - February 5, 2018

We are just dayshours, even!from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea and the globe is hyped up for another round of figure skating, speed skating, and luge.

But it's also fun to look back at past games and remember some of those great Olympic moments that made such an impact in their time. Moments that either still stick with us or, somehow, have slipped through the cracks of memory but come roaring back with a simple, "remember when..."

With the next edition of the games getting ready to start, it's a perfect time to look back 20 years to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

Hockey had a big Olympics that year. Women's hockey made its debut, and NHL players were allowed to play for the first time. Curling returned as an official medal sport for the first time in over 70 years. And the show went on despite a minor earthquake that shook one of the ski venues.

But a few special events stand out from all the rest and still hang in the back of our minds 20 years later.

Snowboarding's debut goes up in smoke

The Nagano Games was the first time snowboarding was an official medal sport. They featured giant slalom and halfpipe events for both men and women. It was a thrilling entry that gave the Olympics a breath of fresh air, keeping them more current for a generation that found it difficult to stay interested in cross-country skiing.

Besides delivering excitement, the sport also delivered an Olympic-sized controversy when Canadian Ross Rebagliati tested positive for marijuana a day after winning gold in the men's giant slalom.

He claimed it was from second hand smoke and, indeed, the amount found in his system was small, barely crossing the minuscule threshold previously set by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The IOC initially voted to strip Rebagliati of his medal but he quickly won it back on appeal.

20 years later, thanks to evolving views and laws, Rebagliati is working in the medicinal cannabis field in Canada after years of trying to go it in the corporate world.

Lipinski's golden moment

While the women's figure skating competition at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway was all about the drama off the ice between Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, the 1998 contest put the focus back on the ice thanks to a showdown between Tara Lipinski, then 15, and Michelle Kwan, then 17.

Kwan had edged out Lipinski at the U.S. championships the month before Nagano, but Lipinski won both the 1997 U.S. and World titles, meaning Nagano was going to put the battle of the best on the biggest stage.

Kwan's terrific performance during the short program gave her a lead over Lipinski, who was impressive in her own right.

But it would be Lipinski who would ultimately win the competition with a brilliant free skate program that pushed her just past Kwan and made her, at 15, the youngest woman to ever win an Olympic figure skating gold medal.

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