Alexandre Bilodeau wins the men’s moguls competition to start a Canadian gold rus

As their North American neighbours liked to remind them, the Canadians had never heard their anthem played on their own soil at an Olympic Games. Freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau put that right early on at Vancouver 2010, winning the men’s moguls competition to start a Canadian gold rush.

Whistler was experiencing some unusually mild weather in the run-up to the Games, and ahead of the start of the moguls competition the course was looking fairly bare. The organisers came up with an ingenious solution by bringing in trucks full of snow to make sure that the course was in perfect condition – even if the surroundings were brown and green rather than pure white.

That didn’t distract Bilodeau, though. The field seemed wide open coming into the event, although the form book did seem to favour the reigning champion Dale Begg-Smith, who had actually been born in Vancouver but competed for Australia.

After the first run, it was the Frenchman Guilbaut Colas who led, with Bilodeau in second and Begg-Smith in fourth. It was the Australian, though, who jumped to the top of the standings in the second run, only for Bilodeau to respond with a stunning run of his own, producing the fastest time and throwing in a back iron cross jump for good measure.

In doing so he leapt into the history books, becoming the first Canadian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal on home soil. Twenty-four hours later, and 45 years to the day after Canada had adopted it as their national flag, the Maple Leaf fluttered proudly at the top of the pole for Bilodeau’s medal ceremony.