Begg-Smith bobbles but advances easily into Olympic moguls finals

By Eddie Pells, AP
Sunday, February 14, 2010

Colas, Begg-Smith move easily into moguls finals

WEST VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Guilbaut Colas of France keeps pushing the favorite in men’s moguls out of first place. One more shove, and he might find himself wearing an Olympic gold medal.

Colas put down a strong run in qualifying Sunday to finish first while defending Olympic champion Dale Begg-Smith, a Canadian competing for Australia, nearly sat down after his second jump to finish fourth.

Colas scored 25.93 to win qualifying. Everything is reset for Sunday evening’s finals, where the top 20 qualifiers, including Sweden’s second-ranked Jesper Bjoernlund, Canada’s Alexandre Bilodeau and Bryon Wilson of the United States will compete.

“I’ve got more to come,” said Colas, who has beaten the top-ranked Begg-Smith twice in the past month to set up an unpredictable Olympic showdown.

As has been his custom since he arrived in his native Vancouver, Begg-Smith didn’t stop to discuss anything with the media after his run. The performance spoke for itself, though — smooth through the bumps and fast, more than enough to make up for a sloppy landing on the bottom jump, where the backs of his skis sunk into the slushy snow.

Should he win a medal, it will offer a rare chance for media outside his adopted country to grill him — on his mysterious internet business, and the reasons he left his home country to become an Aussie citizen.

Meanwhile, Bilodeau, who came in ranked fourth in the world, is a Canadian who competes for Canada — and still a candidate to win Canada’s first Olympic gold of the games. He competes the night after Canadian favorite Jenn Heil finished second to Hannah Kearney, an American whose mom is from Canada.


It normally isn’t when Begg-Smith is on the hill. He has been the dominant mougls skier for three of the last four years, save the 2008-09 season when he was recovering from a knee injury.

America is rebuilding its men’s moguls program, one that used to be headlined by Jeremy Bloom, Jonny Moseley and Toby Dawson.

The new generation includes Wilson, Michael Morse and Patrick Deneen. All of them, and veteran Nate Roberts, advanced to the finals, as did all four Canadians in the lineup.

Deneen had the “honor” of being first in qualifying, never an easy task.

“It was a little crazy when I saw that run order and my name was at the top,” he said. “But it was good. I could keep my rhythm all the way through and ski like I did in training.”

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