Canada secures historic gold medal





Canada's long wait for a first Olympic gold medal on home soil is over after Alexandre Bilodeau won the men's moguls event in Vancouver.

Bilodeau, 22, finished ahead of Australia's reigning champion Dale Begg-Smith and American Bryon Wilson.

It ended a 34-year wait and sparked wild celebrations at Cypress Mountain.

Canada had never won an Olympic gold medal in their homeland, failing to capture any at the 1976 Montreal Summer Games or the 1988 Calgary Winter Games.

"I don't think I really realise it," said Bilodeau. "It's too good to be true."

A day after his moguls team-mate Jennifer Heil failed to live up to expectations and win Canada's first gold medal, Bilodeau stepped up and flew down the course in a speedy, near flawless run.

After qualifying with the second best time, Bilodeau was the penultimate skier.

He then blazed through the slushy moguls, tore down the course in 23.17 seconds and posted a score that was 0.17 points better than Canadian-born Begg-Smith, who won gold for Australia in Turin four years ago.

When the final skier, Guilbaut Colas of France, had his sixth-place score flashed on the board, the Canadian crowd went wild.

"It's been a dream since I was a little kid and it's come true," said Bilodeau.

"I can't think. There are more golds to come for Canada. It's just the beginning of a good party in Canada."

It is a moment that will be played and replayed for the next two weeks and beyond - one that will be celebrated again come Monday, when Bilodeau receives the Olympic gold in a ceremony downtown in Vancouver.

He and Wilson were the only two men in the finals who dared try a backflip with two twists on the top jump.

And bronze medallist Wilson said: "A year ago, I would've been just happy to make the Olympics, that was my first goal.

"When I got down to the bottom, I saw the score, I hoped it would hold out and it did. And it was pretty amazing."


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