It took until day three of their third time hosting the Winter Olympic Games, but Canada has finally won a gold at home.
Alexandre Bilodeau pulled off the feat in the men’s moguls finals Sunday night at Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver, B.C.
To say Bilodeau laid it all on the line would be an understatement. In his gold medal run, Bilodeau skied hard, fast, and on edge, walking the thin line between greatness and disaster. The skiing was nearly perfect, and his two jumps were spectacular. The run of a lifetime.
When the score was posted, Bilodeau, a man everyone thought was a long shot to reach the podium, had edged past defending Olympic champion and favorite Dale Begg-Smith and into first place.
Begg-Smith himself plays a bigger role in the story than simply being the toppled champion. At 16, the Canadian-born millionaire internet mogul fled Canada for Australia after having a falling out with the Canadian governing body. Begg-Smith has been representing Australia in international competition ever since.
Begg-Smith's dispute with the Canadian governing body, his recluse image, and his frequent refusal to communicate with non-Australian media have caused many to make him out to be the villain of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
While Begg-Smith’s true intentions are certainly debatable, there is no doubt that it would have been devastating to the people of Canada to see a Canadian-born athlete win gold for Australia on their own soil.
After the underdog overtook the champion, one skier remained, France’s Guilbaut Colas. Colas’s run was fast and furious. Like Bilodeau, he skied hard and fast and even posted the best time amongst all the finalists.
However, when Colas’s score was posted a small error on one of his jumps had cost him dearly, and the gold medal belonged to Bilodeau.
Like that, a hero was born.
In the instant after Colas’s score was posted, Bilodeau leaped off of the slope side where he and the other medal leaders were seated, threw his hands over his head, and jumped for joy.
And then there were the fans. The cameras panned through a sea of red and white. Cheers of Can-a-da rang out loud and clear. Some people screamed in joy, while others hugged one other. Some even shed tears. There were maple leafs everywhere. It was the perfect example of pride for one’s country.
Amongst all the images following Bilodeau’s triumph, one stood out amongst the rest. That was the image of Bilodeau’s older brother Frederic.
Frederic Bilodeau suffers from cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. When his little brother won Olympic gold, Frederic cheered and screamed madly from his wheelchair behind the fence near the bottom of the course.
The joy and pride on Frederic’s face was unmistakable. Alexandre says that Frederic is his idol and best friend.
The following quote sums up Alexandre’s feelings about his big brother and his disability, “It puts everything back into perspective. I’ve got that chance to train, and maybe one day will be an Olympic champion, and I’ll take it. Even if it’s raining, I’ll take it. I’ll go train. He doesn’t even have that chance, and he has a smile. Every morning he wakes up, and he’s got all the right to complain, and he never complains.…We can learn from those people.”
Competition, love of country, hard work, family, glory. That’s what the Olympics spirit and the story of Alexandre Bilodeau are all about.