Alexandre Bilodeau ended Canada’s Olympic gold medal drought on home soil by winning the men’s freestyle moguls.
After winter Games in Calgary and summer Games in Montreal finished without a single Canadian victory, Bolideau clinched the medal the hosts were yearning for at Cypress Mountains.
“It’s just too good to be true. I just let it go. I went out and knew what I had to do,” said the 22-year-old from Montreal, Quebec.
“Canada is so strong, there are many more golds to come. The party is just starting for Canada.” Canada were left without a gold on the first day of competition on Saturday, with the highly-fancied Jenn Heil having to make do with silver on the moguls.
But the 34 years of Olympic agony ended when Bilodeau put together a superb run down the Cypress Mountain hill and the whole nation went into a frenzy.
At the last Calgary winter Games in 1988 the acrobatic form of technical and aerial skiing was still in its relative infancy as a demonstration event, and moguls did not enter the official Olympic programme until 1992 at Albertville.
Canada’s CTV television had been counting the days — 12,257 had gone by since the Olympic cauldron was lit in Montreal without a home gold, said a commentator. But a third cauldron could now have been lit on top of the two ignited in Friday’s opening ceremony.
“This is going to light a fire,” said Canadian luger Sam Edney who watched the historic moment after his competition in Whistler.
Bilodeau received 26.75 points for his performance as he beat Vancouver-born Australian Dale Begg-Smith, the 2006 champion, who had 26.58 points. Bryon Wilson got bronze for the US with 26.08 points.
If Canada had a good day, France’s was even better with two golds in Nordic combined and biathlon.
Jason Lamy Chappuis denied American Johnny Spillane on the home stretch to claim gold in the Nordic combined normal hill competition, with Italian Alessandro Pittin third.
France’s Vincent Jay stunned the favourites to win a men’s biathlon gold, a win helped by adverse weather conditions which affected the later starters.
Jay, 24, had the luck of an early bib and perfect shooting to claim sprint gold as most favourites met disaster in terrible conditions.
Norwegian contender Emil Hegle Svendsen salvaged silver with one penalty loop, 12.2 seconds behind. Jakov Fak of Croatia got surprise bronze with clean shooting and a deficit of 14 seconds.
Canada also enjoyed a bronze in women’s speed skating where five-time world champion Martina Sablikova won for Czech Republic over 3,000 metres.
Sablikova clocked a track record 4 minutes 2.53 seconds at the Richmond Oval to beatGermany’s Stephanie Beckert and Canadian Kristina Groves.
Felix Loch of Germany became the youngest men’s luge Olympic champion, demolishing the field and dethroning two-time reigning title-holder Armin Zoeggeler of Italy.
Loch, 20, finished first in the third run of the competition (48.02 seconds) and top in the final race (48.171) for a combined time of 3 minutes 13.085 seconds.He headed a German one—two, with two—time world champion David Moeller 0.679 seconds behind.
The luge had taken place with a lower start following the fatal training crash of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili.
The death Kumaritashvili hours before the opening ceremony left a mark on an otherwise good start for the Games, the organizing committee said.
VANOC vice president for communications Renee Smith-Valade said athletes were signing books of condolence in the Olympic villages, which will be later presented to the athlete’s family.