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posted: 2/15/2010 12:01 AM

Bilodeau brings home first gold for Canada

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  • Alexandre Bilodeau celebrates his win in moguls Sunday. He became the first Canadian to win a gold medal at Vancouver.

      Alexandre Bilodeau celebrates his win in moguls Sunday. He became the first Canadian to win a gold medal at Vancouver.
    Associated Press


O Canada!

They will sing it loud and proud, thanks to the unlikely upset pulled by Alexandre Bilodeau, who won the men's moguls Sunday night in West Vancouver to become the first Canadian to win Olympic gold inside the country's borders.

Showing all the speed and daring a skier needs to make some history, Bilodeau blazed through the slushy moguls, tore down the course in 23.17 seconds and posted a score of 26.75. That was .17 points better than defending champion Dale Begg-Smith, a Vancouver native who now competes for Australia.

Bryon Wilson of the United States finished third. When the final skier, Guilbaut Colas of France, had his sixth-place score flashed on the board, the Canadian crowd went crazy.

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

It has been nearly 34 years since the cauldron was first lit for the Summer Games in Montreal, and 22 since the last Canadian games in Calgary.

And now, the land of the Maple Leaf has its moment.

Luge: The luge competition produced a gold medalist, bringing a sense of relief to a sport reeling from the death of a Georgian athlete only two days earlier. Felix Loch, a 20-year-old German, sped safely down the altered track at the Whistler Sliding Center and won in a four-heat time of 3 minutes, 13.085 seconds.

"It was the right decision (to change the start position)," Loch said. "I was worried that I wouldn't do so well, but it's OK. It's great."

Biathlon: Tim Burke and Jay Hakkinen were supposed to challenge for medals. Then came a heavy, wet snowfall that was tough enough to undo Norwegian great Ole Einar Bjorndalen as well. Bjorndalen, winner of a record 9 biathlon medals, had the worst finish of his Olympic career - 17th. His three penalties from the prone position matched the most of all 87 competitors, and his four total penalties tied for second most. In 11 events over three Olympics, Bjorndalen finished lower than fifth only once, placing 12th in this event in Turin.

Burke, the first U.S. biathlete to lead the World Cup standings, endured the same muck and wound up 47th. Hakkinen was 54th and lost his status as the American with the best finish in an Olympic biathlon event. Jeremy Teela was ninth to match Hakkinen's best.

Women's hockey: The only question was whether the United States would clobber China as badly as Canada wiped out Latvia.

No, but it was close.

The Americans won 12-1, with Jenny Potter notching her first Olympic hat trick and becoming the leading scorer in U.S. Olympic history. The Americans came within 2:21 of a shutout. The night before, Canada crushed Slovakia 18-0.

Figure skating: China's Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo received a record score in winning the short program. The two-time bronze medalists, back for one last shot at gold, were mesmerizing as the first skaters Sunday night - usually a disadvantage. Their 76.66 points are .70 ahead of two-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany, who skated last. European champions Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia were 2.5 points behind Shen and Zhao heading into tonight's free skate.

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