Breaking news: Canada wins first gold

February 15, 2010

OLYMPICS-FREESTYLE/

Alexandre Bilodeau’s nerveless performance in the men’s freestyle moguls has ensured his position as a national hero, while lighting up an Olympic Games that had been in danger of falling flat.

The 22-year-old from Montreal became the first Canadian to win a gold medal at an Olympics hosted by the country — and this is their third — when he clinched victory at 1819 local time on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, at Cypress Mountain.

After the disappointment of the first day, and most of the second, the sense of relief among Canadians must be enormous. Canada spent billions of dollars bringing the Games to Vancouver and more than a hundred million on their Own The Podium programme, designed to improve their medal account and the Summer and Winter Games over five years.

The Olympics was badly in need of a lift after the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili on Friday morning.

The terrible weather that ruled out any Alpine skiing competition over the first weekend also spoiled the mood somewhat but from now on it’s going to feel like a different Games.

PHOTO: Canada’s Alexandre Bilodeau competes during men’s freestyle skiing moguls qualifying on Cypress Mountain at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, February 14, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

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