Aussies won't accept Canadian beating Begg-Smith

Neate Sager

Suffice it to say Geoff Lipshut should have shut his lip.

Visiting journalists and Canadian scribes are jumping on quotes that the perhaps unfortunately named Australian ski official gave to The Courier-Mail, a Queensland newspaper, after Dale Begg-Smith was edged by Canada's Alexander Bilodeau in men's moguls on Sunday night. The smoking gun is the quote. The Courier-Mail has it one way:

"My own opinion is that probably Alex is not capable of a 4.8 or a 4.9 [on his turns] ... because 5 is a perfect score."

In Canada, it appears slightly altered:

"My own opinion is probably that Alex is not capable of a 4.8 or 4.9 for turns. He's just not capable."

How far this gets depends on whether Australia would file an appeal or just accept these are the chances you take with a judged sport. Bilodeau was the fastest down the moguls course, CTV commentator Veronica Brenner pointed out the degree of difficulty of his tricks was a little higher than usual, and that's where it should end.

Toronto Sun sportswriter Steve Buffery elaborates on how the Australians felt the judges were under the "influence of the 8,296-strong crowd of raucous Canadians," as reporter from Down Under put it:

"The Aussie camp felt Bilodeau, the first Canadian to win an Olympic gold medal on home soil, was given turn scores from two judges that were too high.

"Three of the five judges awarded Begg-Smith, the 2006 Olympic champion, superior scores for his turns, but two judges, a Finn, Pipsa Pohjavirta, and a Norwegian, Morten Skarpaas, awarded Bilodeau higher scores of 4.8 and 4.9.

"Turns are traditionally not Bilodeau's strength."

Talk about a major hair-split by the Australians. This boils down to a small variance among the learned judgment of moguls judges, a 10th a point here or there. What is odd is the Australians are typically fairly gracious. An irony is we have read repeatedly that Begg-Smith doesn't concern himself with his placing, good or bad; it's one of the reasons some Aussie columnists pure flat-out loath him.

One would hope this blows over. Another funny part is some Canadians were initially angry Bilodeau received lower scores from the Canadian judge, Susan Verdier. You could just hear it: "It's Canada, give the higher score to the Canadian." Expecting a higher score from the home-nation judge seems like the opposite of a what judge is supposed to do.

Meantime, for someone who is infamous for not saying much, Begg-Smith might not being going quietly.