Australian Gold, U.S. Bronze
Toby Dawson comes in third, while hopeful Jeremy Bloom comes up short
By Madhuri Vastare, Scholastic Kids Press Corps
The excitement level was high as Olympians hit the slopes for the men's finals. Going in as the favorite, 21-year-old Begg-Smith grabbed the gold. Finishing right behind him was Finland's Mikko Ronkainen for the silver. U.S. skier Toby Dawson of Colorado, was third for the bronze.
Moguls is an event in freestyle skiing. In the moguls competition, skiers individually race down a mountain covered with large bumps, some measuring up to four feet. The skiers must make aggressive twists and turns while still keeping their shoulders as parallel to the finish line as possible and their knees together.
Mogul competitors ski down heavily "moguled" or bumpy courses that are approximately 250 meters long. Athletes must ski the straightest line possible, and perform two platform jumps on the way down.
Each competitor is judged on the quality of turns, line, air, and speed. The highest score wins. Mogul skiing brings strength and agility together in approximately 30-second runs.
Begg-Smith is a computer expert when he's not preparing for the Olympics. He was the pre-race favorite in the moguls event.
"It is a very difficult role to take on, especially when everyone is waiting to pick on your slightest faults" said Begg-Smith. The result is a dream come true for the Canadian-born Australian. "It's unbelievable, just awesome, it's what I've always wanted to do," he said.
Among the four Americans in the competition, Jeremy Bloom was expected to do well. He finished a disappointing sixth. At least it was disappointing for his fans. Bloom was happy with the whole experience.
"It's truly not about who finishes first, but the experience," said Bloom, who won the World Championships in moguls in 2005.
Rounding out the American team, Travis Mayer, a silver medalist in the 2002 games, finished seventh, while Travis Cabral came in ninth.
Alpine skiing and ski jumping events resume on Friday, February 17, with the women's combined and men's large hill.
It will be a busy Presidents' Day weekend for the skiers, with men's and women's super-g and men's giant slalom, large hill and team competitions.