Freestyle skier Bilodeau grabs Canada's first gold at Vancouver Games

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Canadian freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau sent the home crowd into hours of jubilation by winning the men's moguls competition to award Canada its first gold at the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games on Sunday.

Bilodeau thus became the first Canadian to win an Olympic gold on home soil after Montreal hosted the Summer Olympics in 1976 and Calgary held the Winter Olympics in 1988, where the hosts failed to reap their first gold twice.

"I had it, I took it and now I belong to history. I don't think I realise it, but I belong to history," exclaimed Bilodeau.

Despite defending champion Dale Begg-Smith finished his race greatly by earning a final score of 26.58 points, the 21-year-old Bilodeau was still able to edge over the Vancouver-born Australian in 26.75 points, performing two fantastic jumps and skiing down much faster than he did in the qualifying round.

"I've been so much prepared for that," said Bilodeau. "I was nervous but I was comfortable. Being nervous, I think it just gave meanings to what I do."

Begg-Smith, 25, was thought to be the hot favourite in the event as the reigning Olympic champion collected three golds and two silvers in his five appearance at the World Cup this season, even after receiving knee injury about one year ago.

Begg-Smith, who moved to his adopted country 10 years ago, showed great confidence to become the first freestyle skier to win two Olympic gold medals by finishing fourth in the qualifying round.

On the other hand, Bilodeau qualified for the 20-squad final as the second fastest and said he was conservative to make a safe run and he could be a lot faster.

In front of the 8,269 spectators, Bilodeau controlled himself well over the turns and performed two excellent jumps. What's more important was that he did finish his race faster in the final which enabled him to edge Begg-Smith.

"It's a great start for Canada and I'll be cheering for all the Canadians to win in the next couple of days," said Bilodeau who believes there would be more to come for the host.

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