By Duncan Mackay in Vancouver

February 14 - Alexandre Bilodeau (pictured) tonight became the first Canadian to win an Olympic gold medal in an event held in Canada when he claimed an emotional but controversial victory in the men's moguls.



Canada had previously hosted the Games twice - the Summer Olympics at Montreal in 1976 and the Winter Olympics Calgary in 1988 - and failed to stand on top of the podium on either occasion.

But Bilodeau's breakthrough came in the 10th event of these Games and helped calm local nerves following Jenn Heil's failure to win the women's moguls last night despite her being the favourite.

The 22-year-old from Quebec moved into first with a swift, soaring run, but then had to wait until main rival Dale Begg-Smith, who was actually born in Vancouver but emigrated to Australia, until had completed his run before he could celebrate properly.

He said: "I had it, I took it and now I belong to history."

Bilodeau claimed he has been inspired by his older brother, Frederic, who has cerebral palsy.

Doctors told his parents that he would never walk beyond the age of 10 but at the age of 28 he is still on his feet, even jumping into the air in celebration when his kid brother claimed victory here.

Bilodeau said: "My brother is my inspiration.

"He taught me so many things in my life.

"I have great friends in the stands waiting for me.

"I've got everything on my side.

"Everything was perfect."

Begg-Smith took silver and American Bryon Wilson got the bronze, giving the United States six medals through two days of competition - the most of these Olympics and matching the team's total from the last time the Winter Games were in Canada in 1988.



Begg-Smith had entered the Olympics as the undisputed favourite to win gold.

Born in West Vancouver, the self-made millionaire moved to Australia back in 2001 after a row with the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association.

Canadian officials refused to allow the rising star the flexibility to balance his burgeoning internet advertising business with training.

So he left and proceeded to win gold for Australia at the 2006 Winter Games in Turin.

Afterwards, Australia's Olympic Winter Institute chief executive Geoff Lipshut accused judges of awarding inflated scores to Bilodeau.

He said: "My own opinion is that probably Alex is not capable of a 4.8 or a 4.9 [on his turns], because five is a perfect score.

"Dale had the highest turn points and the highest air points.

"Dale skied unbelievable and I don't think you can fault anything he did.

"I thought Dale won, but that's just a gut feel."

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