Canada's embarrassing Olympic record is over after the country celebrated a first gold won on home soil. Having gone without during the home summer Games of 1976 and winter Games of 1988, Canada was desperate to win gold this time, and the freestyle skier Alex Bilodeau obliged by claiming victory yesterday in the men's moguls final ahead of the Canadian-turned-Australian and defending champion, Dale Begg-Smith, who took silver, with the American Byron Wilson third.
A jubilant Bilodeau said: "The party is just starting for Canada. There are so many good golds to come. It is too good to be true and I don't think I realise yet [what it means]. At the top [of the course] I said, 'I'm ready'. I knew what to do."
Begg-Smith, a self-made millionaire who switched his allegiances to Australia after a dispute over the amount of time he was spending on his internet business, looked like making Canada wait another day for a home gold when he led with just Bilodeau and France's Guilbaut Colas still to descend.
But, by producing the fastest run of the competition after more or less matching Begg-Smith in scoring for his turns and jumps, Bilodeau took the top prize.
Vonn recovery on course with fastest run in training
Even with a badly bruised right shin, Lindsey Vonn still set the fastest time through the upper section of the course in a downhill training run yesterday. Vonn finished in 1min 30.75sec, which was 0.39sec faster than her US team-mate Julia Mancuso. Vonn injured her shin during practice in Austria on 2 February. She stayed off skis for more than a week, but tested the injury in an unofficial slalom training run on Sunday. The shin was a little tender yesterday morning, but that was to be expected, said Vonn's husband, Thomas, who serves as a coach and adviser to his wife. "She's happy to be where she's at, as opposed to where she was a couple of days ago."
Gillings confident of first podium finish for Britain
Britain will be hoping for a first medal of the Games today as Zoe Gillings competes in the snowboard cross. Gillings, silver medallist at the 2008 World Cup, is confident she can finish on the podium but believes the gold medal favourite is the Canadian Maelle Ricker. "Canada and America are the ones to watch out for, especially Maelle. She is probably the favourite," the 24-year-old said. "She is ranked No 1 in the world at the moment, is in real good form and is local to the area as well. So, if I was a betting person I would be backing her. But anything can happen – I have had some good preparation over the past couple of weeks and I am feeling pretty good about things."
Canadian director tries to cool home expectations
"Own the Podium," Canadian athletes were told before these games. Not everyone appears to have been listening. Despite high hopes that the home side can win the ice hockey competition, the Hockey Canada executive director, Steve Yzerman, has tipped Russia to take the gold medal. However, Brian Burke, manager of the US side, was having none of it before going on to heap more pressure on Canada's side. "Stevie [Yzerman] is trying to take some pressure off Team Canada," Burke said. "I don't know who's taking bets on this tournament but there's a book somewhere and the money is going to be on Canada. I might mention that [the pressure] is glacial, unremitting and unrelenting."Reuse content