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Canada win first home gold
Alexandre Bilodeau takes freestyle moguls prize while first luge medal claimed after tragedy.
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2010 13:55 GMT

Bilodeau is the first Canadian to take Olympic gold in Canada [AFP]

Canada achieved their dream of a first Olympic gold on home soil when Alexandre Bilodeau snatched victory in a thrilling finale to the men's freestyle moguls.

After qualifying with the second best time, Bilodeau was the second to last to race down Cypress Mountain.

His two jumps – a double twisting back flip and a back flip with an iron cross – were clean and his knees close together as he wove a tight path down the bump-filled course.

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

"The party's just starting for Canada."

Canada had not won a gold at either of the previous Games it staged in Montreal – the Summer Games of 1976 and Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics.

The 22-year-old Canadian, who won with 26.75 points, said he did not feel any special pressure to bring home the first gold.

"I was nervous but I was comfortable. Probably the most comfortable I've ever been. I went for it," he said.

Bilodeau had to wait for France's Guilbaut Colas, the top finisher in the qualifying round, to complete his run before he knew he had won.

Then he leapt to his feet and pumped his arms to a roaring crowd.

Defending champion Dale Begg-Smith, who is Canadian-born but has since adopted Australian nationality, took the silver and American Bryon Wilson won the bronze.

Shortened luge

Earlier on Sunday Felix Loch, a 20-year-old German, sped safely down the shortened track at the Whistler Sliding Center to win gold in the luge, two days after a Georgian competitor was killed on the same stretch of ice.

There was a sombre mood at the luge venue, with many mourning the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili.

The 21-year-old Georgian luger died Friday after crashing and hitting a steel girder while on a training run.

Luge officials then changed the start position to try to prevent another accident.

"It was the right decision," Loch said.

"I was worried that I wouldn't do so well, but it's OK. It's great."

The International Luge Federation said they had considered cancelling the Olympic competition after Friday's death.

Despite bagging their first gold, for many Canadians the Winter Olympics won't have begun until their beloved ice hockey team take to the rink on Tuesday.

After the National Hockey League shut down for the Olympic break on Sunday, the world's top players began to flood into Vancouver for what many are already calling the greatest hockey tournament of all-time.

With Canada having claimed an elusive first home gold medal on Sunday, the arrival of Sidney Crosby and his teammates is sure to grab the spotlight.

Source:
Agencies
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