VANCOUVER -- Alexandre Bilodeau won more than just a gold medal tonight in the men's freestyle skiing moguls. He won a permanent place in Canadian lore.
The 22-year-old became the first Canadian athlete to win a gold medal on home turf, expertly navigating the Cypress Mountain moguls course in 23.17 seconds to post a winning score of 26.75. Dale Begg-Smith, who competes for Australia despite being a Vancouver native, was second, while 19-year-old American Bryan Wilson was third.
Canada did not win a gold medal in the two previous Olympics it hosted, the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal and the 1998 Winter Games in Calgary.
Bilodeau's unexpected victory eased the burden on a Canadian team that entered the Winter Games with a mantra of "Own The Podium," but had been frustrated in the first day-plus of competition, most notably when Jennifer Heil could not claim the gold in the women's moguls Saturday.
The final skier of the competition, France's Guilbaut Colas, had a chance to knock Bilodeau from the top. But when his score was posted -- he finished sixth -- Canadian fans erupted in celebration and song.