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Moguls gold tops off a record weekend for Australian winter sport

19 December 2005

Dale Begg-Smith has won the first gold medal in Australia's 25-year history of World Cup mogul skiing, sharing the podium with Olympic Winter Institute team-mate Michael Robertson on what has been one of Australia's most successful weekends of winter sport.

Begg-Smith produced a superb finals run in the German resort of Oberstdorf, earning 25.69 points with a mixture of impressive turns and high-scoring jumps to take the gold from US skier Travis Mayer.

Robertson, skiing the best run of his life, scored 24.83 points to collect his first World Cup medal, a bronze.

The Oberstdorf result is the first time Australia has had two moguls skiers on the podium.

Twenty-year-old Begg-Smith had finished in sixth place in the qualifying round, two places behind Robertson in fourth.

Mayer was the leading qualifier on 25.00 points, with 2005 World Cup champion Jeremy Bloom, also of the US, in second place on 24.79. A third American, 2005 world champion Nathan Roberts, was in third place.

The maiden victory put Begg-Smith into equal second place on the World Cup standings with Mayer on 116 points, 24 behind Tapio Luusua of Finland.

Robertson, 23, moved into eighth place on 60 points, but more importantly, secured a top 20 per cent of field result, meeting the AOC performance criteria for possible selection for Torino 2006.

On the other side of the world, parallel giant slalom rider Emanuel Oppliger was also producing career best performances over the weekend, finishing sixth in the second of two snowboard World Cups in Le Relais, Canada.

Oppliger, 30, followed up his 11th placing in the opening parallel giant slalom event at the Quebec resort with his first top ten, in just the ninth PGS race of his career.

Australia's women were also achieving key results, snowboarder Johanna Shaw qualifying for possible selection to the Torino 2006 team with two top 25 placings in parallel giant slalom in Le Relais.

And moguls skier Manuela Berchtold finished one place out of the 16-woman finals in Oberstdorf to register the second of three top 60 per cent results she needs to meet the qualifying standard for Torino 2006 team selection.

Downhiller AJ Bear had kicked off the remarkable two day period, posting Australia's best men's alpine World Cup result for 18 years, finishing in 17th place in Val Gardena, Italy.

Olympic Winter Institute

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