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Rosa Khutor, Russia
Canada s Alex Bilodeau left his
best until the very last to retain
the men s moguls title at the
Sochi Winter Games today and
become the first freestyle skier to
win two Olympic gold medals.
e 26-year-old, who had
already announced that this
season would be his last, nailed
his final jump brilliantly to
lead another Canadian moguls
one-two under the lights at
the Extreme Park with Mikael
Kingsbury claiming silver.
"It s a great feeling but ... there
were two other Canadians after
me, every day they push me in
training and that s why I got my
best skiing tonight," Bilodeau
" at s why I m the best skier
I have ever been right now and
the guy that finished second, he
is going to win everything after I
have gone. I m glad to finish my
last Olympics like this. It s going
to be a great retirement."
Trailing his rivals after errors
downgraded his scores in the
first two rounds of the final,
Bilodeau finally got his rhythm
just right for a clean third run,
which he capped with a whirl of
rotations to score an imposing
His 21-year-old compatriot
Kingsbury went last in the final
but could only score 24.71,
which nevertheless gave Canada
four of the six moguls medals
after Justine and Chloe Dufour-
Lapointe s gold and silver in the
women s event.
Russia s Alexandr Smyshlyaev
had a superb night, scything
his way through the soft snow
like a dervish and leading after
the opening round of the final,
lifting the crowd with a surprise
bronze in 24.34.
But the night belonged to
Bilodeau, who raised his arms in
the air in delight after crossing
the line, knowing he had almost
certainly secured the gold.
Next up was an embrace with
his brother Frederic, who has
cerebral palsy, in an echo of his
Vancouver triumph four years
ago when he won his country s
first gold medal on home soil.
It had not looked like a repeat
celebration was on the cards
when a couple of big mistakes
left Bilodeau in eighth place
after the first round of the final.
He completed both of his
jumps cleanly in the second
round but another error in
the middle of the course as he
was carving his way through
the ruts saw him placed third
behind Kingsbury and another
at meant going third last
in the final but he set such an
imposing target that Kingsbury
was unable to beat it.
"It s crazy," Kingsbury said,
who has dominated the event for
the last two years winning 15 out
of 20 competitions in the World
Cup and world championships.
"I was going for gold, but just
to be on the podium is crazy and
I am with my team-mate. It s
Australia s Dale Begg-Smith,
who won gold in 2006 and
silver in 2010, crashed out in
qualifying and immediately
announced he would not
Bilodeau will follow him into
retirement confident Canadian
moguls is in good hands.
" e future of freestyle skiing
in Canada is not done, there
are so many good kids coming
podium with one of them," he
said. --- Reuters
PICTURE: Getty Images
Canada s Alex Bilodeau competes in the men s moguls finals in which he retained his title at the
Winter Olympics at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park today in Sochi.
Manly legend Steve Menzies
will join Sydney Roosters great
Brad Fittler in a return to rugby
league at this weekend s NRL
e involvement of Fittler,
42, in the Eden Park event
was confirmed by the NRL
last month and Menzies, 40,
will be unveiled as part of the
Sea Eagles 16-man squad at a
promotion later today.
But fears the short-form
tournament will be a haven for
returning veterans and lesser-
name NRL players have been
allayed with the majority of
teams naming strong sides for
the inaugural event.
Kangaroos prop Andrew Fifita
was added to a Cronulla roster
containing captain Paul Gallen,
Todd Carney and Wade Graham
yesterday, after initially being
ruled out due to eye surgery.
Captain Robbie Farah will
spearhead the Wests Tigers
Nines campaign with Aaron
Woods, Curtis Sironen, David
Nofoaluma, Pat Richards, Adam
Blair, Marika Koroibete and
young gun Mitchell Moses also
among those named.
One of the few props likely to
play in the tournament, Woods
said he did not know what to
"I m looking forward to it but
not quite sure what will happen,
"I ll just be looking to hold
up the middle and stop the
little blokes from darting their
way through. It s going to be a
challenge but it is also going to
be a lot of fun.
Morris was named in St George
Illawarra s line-up alongside
NSW stars Josh Dugan
and Trent Merrin and Kiwi
representative Jason Nightingale.
Morris said he was humbled to
be named skipper in the absence
of Ben Creagh, whose wife
recently gave birth.
"It s really exciting. is is
a club I m proud to play for
and it s a huge honour to be
made captain, Morris told the
Dragons website. "It s going
to be a great tournament. It s a
whole new concept and there
will be a whole new set of tactics.
" ere will be a bit more space
out there which should give us
smaller blokes a chance to show
what we can do with the ball.
Hopefully the fans will love it.
However, none of Melbourne s
big three of Cameron Smith,
Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater
e World Cup-winning
Kangaroo trio were all left out of
coach Craig Bellamy s squad.
NSW back-rower Ryan
Hoffman will captain the Storm
side, with stars Will Chambers,
Justin O Neill, Kevin Proctor,
Jesse Bromwich (emergency
17th man) also included
alongside Canterbury recruit
Winger Matt Duffie has
been included after a successful
comeback from knee and
shoulder injury in the under-
strength Storm s 20-12 loss to
Canberra on Saturday.
Tohu Harris will play his
first official game since being
bumped out of New Zealand s
World Cup squad by Sonny Bill
e Nines take place at Eden
Park on Saturday and Sunday.
Menzies joins Fittler in
Bilodeau retains title
Western criticism of Russia s Winter
Olympics was reminiscent of Cold War
ambitions to hold the Soviet Union back,
President Vladimir Putin said yesterday,
despite signs that the world was warming to
the most expensive games ever held.
e build-up to the Olympics in Sochi on
the Black Sea coast has been overshadowed
by threats of Islamist militant violence,
an international outcry over a contentious
"anti-gay propaganda" law and allegations of
widespread corruption and profligacy.
As the third full day of competition drew
to a close, that hostility had begun to melt
away and the thrills and spills on snow and
ice, and a hugely popular Russian gold in the
team figure skating on Sunday, began to win
the critics around.
Monday s biggest drama was undoubtedly
in the men s 500m speed skating at the
Adler Arena, where, in a Dutch sweep of the
medals. Michel Mulder beat Jan Smeekens
by one hundredth of a second, having initially
been announced as second.
"It was a kick in the gut," said Smeekens,
who thought he had won for about "two or
three minutes" before the scoreboard adjusted
his time. "I was so ecstatic that I won, I can t
Mulder s twin brother Ronald grabbed
bronze as the Dutch continued their
dominance of the sport.
e excitement did not stop Putin, who has
staked his personal and political prestige on a
successful games, from taking a swipe at his
detractors, suggesting he was still smarting
from criticism he always maintained was
"Back in Cold War times the theory of
containment was created," he told a televised
public meeting in Sochi.
" is theory and its practice were aimed
at restraining the development of the Soviet
Union... what we see now are echoes of this
containment theory. is, unfortunately, has
also applied to the Olympic project."
Putin also said the Olympics were playing
a "positive role" in relations between Russia
and its 2008 war foe Georgia, emphasising
that he believed flights set up between Sochi
and the Georgian capital Tbilisi should
continue after the games.
A day earlier, the 61-year-old had been
all smiles, as state television captured him
congratulating the victorious Russian skaters,
"high fiving" with young volunteers, drinking
beer and urging the home team to greater
On the team was diminutive 15-year-
old Julia Lipnitskaya, whose breathtaking
performance melted hearts and had
commentators in the United States, as well
as Russia, gushing over a superstar in the
making. "Good job guys, my congratulations
to you all," Putin said, addressing the winning
team crowded around him. "You have a lot of
work ahead of you here, so don t relax."
But there were no more gold medals for
Defending champion Alex Bilodeau led
a Canadian one-two in the men s freestyle
skiing moguls, putting his country atop the
medals table with three golds, three silvers
and a bronze. France claimed its first title
of the games when Martin Fourcade won
the biathlon 12.5km pursuit. Ole Einar
Bjoerndalen of Norway finished fourth to
miss out on what would have been a record
13th Winter Games medal. In the high-
velocity, notoriously unpredictable sport
of short track, Canada s Charles Hamelin
grabbed 1500m gold before lunging over the
barriers to wrap his girlfriend and team-mate
Marianne St-Gelais in a hug.
Germany s Maria Hoefl-Riesch retained
her Olympic super combined title with a
slalom surge amid the peaks of the Caucasus
In tomorrow s action the first-ever medals
in women s ski jumping will be awarded, in
the normal hill competition, one of eight
golds up for grabs.
e American and Canadian heavyweights
of the men s ice hockey competition had their
first practice today with attention already
turning to Saturday s mouthwatering clash
between the US and Russia that will bring
back memories of the "miracle on ice" at Lake
Placid in 1980 when the Americans shocked
the dominant Soviets to win 4-3.
A Russian victory in that game would
further enhance the mood among locals.
Even some of those worst affected by years
of disruption caused by huge infrastructure
projects in Sochi appear to be won over by
the gleaming new Olympic park.
"It s just fantastic," Sergei Klyuyev, from the
Adler area where the park was built, said as
he walked through with his family yesterday,
admiring the state-of-the-art stadiums.
" ere s been building work here for five
years but look at all this around us. We regret
nothing, not even the cost."
Putin wants to use Russia s first Winter
Games, which cost $51 billion to stage, to
project the country as a resurgent nation that
belongs among the world s elite powers.
He has defended the scale of the project,
saying it helped shield Russia from the worst
of the financial crisis.
Not all Russians are convinced, however. A
recent sur vey by independent pollster Levada
showed 47% of them believe the cost of the
games has soared because funds have been
embezzled or mismanaged.
Norway, bidding to host the 2022 Winter
Olympics, said in Sochi today it would limit
its budget to around $5 billion. --- Reuters
West blamed for Cold War mentality towards games
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