February 16, 2006

Canada has no regrets over Begg-Smith defection

BARDONECCHIA, Italy (Reuters) - Canada has no regrets about
Vancouver-born Dale Begg-Smith defecting to Australia despite
missing out on a men's moguls gold medal, their freestyle
skiing chief said on Thursday.

World Cup leader Begg-Smith, 21, snatched gold with the
last run of the final on Wednesday to give Australia their
first medal of the Turin Games and third gold in Winter Olympic

It could all have been very different if Begg-Smith, along
with brother, Jason, had not decided to quit Canada for
Australia aged 15 after his Internet business interests and
school prevented him attending enough Canadian training

"I am happy for Dale. He made a pretty big leap of faith,"
Peter Judge, chief executive of the Canadian Freestyle Ski
Association, told Reuters.

"Given the system at the time if he hadn't made the
decision he would have walked away from skiing and that would
have been a tragedy."

Begg-Smith's win also bumped Canadian Marc-Andre Moreau
from bronze into fourth but Judge is confident they can pick up
medals at the men's and women's aerials next week.

The Canadians have amassed four medals so far in the Turin
Games, including Jennifer Heil's gold in the women's moguls
last Saturday.