February 10, 2014 - 11:35 AM
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Canada's Alex Bilodeau has won his second straight gold medal in Olympic moguls.
His teammate Mikael Kingsbury has captured silver.
Bilodeau, from Montreal, took top spot with a score of 24.70 while rival Mikael Kingsbury of Deux-Montagnes, Que., was second with a score of 23.81. Marc-Antoine Gagnon of Terrebonne, Que., was fifth (22.90) and Philippe Marquis of Quebec City was sixth (22.43).
Two other podium contenders, American Patrick Deneen and Russia's Alexandr Smyshlyaev, also qualified. However, 2006 Olympic champion Dale Begg-Smith of Australia -- a Vancouver native -- crashed out and didn't advance.
The top 10 skiers in the 29-man field moved straight to the next round. The remaining 19 skiers had to perform another run and the top 10 from that round moved on as well.
The field will be cut from 20 to 12, then 12 to six and then one final run will be held to determine the medallists.
In moguls, a skiers' results are determined by their time down the course and judges' scores on their style and two jumps. Temperatures reached 15 C in the Sochi area earlier in the day and the snow was quite soft at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park for the early evening qualifier.
It should be a few degrees cooler when the final round begins under the lights at 11:10 p.m. local time.
Kingsbury and Bilodeau are heavy favourites to reach the podium and it will be a surprise if the gold does not go to a Canadian.
Kingsbury, 21, is the reigning world moguls champion and he has won the World Cup overall moguls title the last two years. He is making his Olympic debut.
Bilodeau, meanwhile, has Olympic experience on his side. The 26-year-old won Canada's first gold medal at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
Kingsbury picked up three World Cup victories at the start of this season but Bilodeau won the last three World Cups leading into Sochi.
The Canadian freestyle team is very strong this year. Montreal's Justine Dufour-Lapointe won gold in the women's moguls over the weekend and her sister Chloe took the silver.
Canada is the only country that has won the men's moguls on more than one occasion. Jean-Luc Brassard won gold at the Lillehammer Games in 1994.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2014