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Bilodeau good as gold as Canada crack jinx

Canada broke the jinx that has cursed it for three home-turf Olympic Games yesterday with a gold medal in men's moguls skiing, triggering an outpouring of elation from a country that almost thought it couldn't win.

"I don't think I realise it yet -- it's too good to be true," an elated Alexandre Bilodeau said after his freestyle win. "The party's just starting for Canada."

Bilodeau's win came near the end of day two of the Olympic competition, and a day before Alpine skiing is finally scheduled to get under way after a weekend of delays triggered by persistent rain and fog.

It followed a brace of golds for France, in Nordic Combined and biathlon, and a gold-silver placing for Germany in the men's luge, on a shortened version of the controversial track where Georgian slider Nodar Kumaritashvili died on Friday.

The clouds lifted, bringing bright sun and blue skies, and unveiling snow-topped peaks across the water from Vancouver.

But it was the moguls win that caught the attention of Canadians.

Bilodeau's win triggered roars of applause from a sea of spectators.

Canada had hosted two previous Olympics -- the Montreal Summer Games in 1976, and the Calgary Winter Games in 1988 -- and had not won gold at either.

Alpine skiing would normally have been the highlight of the first weekend, but events have fallen victim to the unpredictable weather.

The blue riband men's downhill, originally scheduled for Saturday, is now set to take place at 1830GMT today in the resort of Whistler.

Back in Vancouver, Czech skater Martina Sablikova won the women's 3,000-metre speed skating.

PJ Barron will be the first Irish competitor in action in Vancouver when he lines up for the cross-country skiing race tonight at 10.30 (Irish).

The 21-year-old Scotsman with Irish parentage just beat two-time Olympic rower Paul Griffin from Killarney to make the team.


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