Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bilodeau becomes overnight sensation

We'll remember you forever, Alexandre

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VANCOUVER -- He sipped champagne on national TV, posed with Wayne Gretzky, chatted with two prime ministers and did one interview after another after another.

The first day of the rest of Alexandre Bilodeau's life was a full one, a blur of media interviews and public appearances. Sadly for the 22-year-old from Rosmere, Que., who rocketed down the 250-metre Cypress Mountain course in 23.17 seconds Sunday night, there was no time Monday to take another thrill ride -- this one down a zipline in downtown Vancouver.

The newly crowned Olympic moguls champion knocked back some bubbly on the air at CTV's Olympic studio after his historic win, visited his sponsor McDonald's and, after a visit to the nearby Main Press Centre, tried in vain to grab 45 minutes sleep in his room at the athletes village.

Then he was up at 3 a.m. to head back to the International Broadcast Centre for an appearance on NBC's Today show, then back to CTV for Canada AM and a round of telephone interviews.

"The last 12 hours (have been) the fastest of my life obviously," he said Monday. "I'm probably going to be in the Trivial Pursuit... I can't believe it yet."

Bilodeau fielded calls from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and former PM Jean Chretien, among others. After snatching three hours sleep Monday morning, it was back downtown for a televised news conference and more one-on-one TV appearances.

In a security cocoon and with an entourage worthy of a rock star, Bilodeau was whisked among the little broadcast tents set up on Robson Square to answer the same questions, in French and English.

While he talked, Freestyle Canada's Kelley Korbin's phone was glued to her ear as she fielded 40 more interview requests in less than an hour.

"I couldn't tell you his name (before)", said Neil Kelsey of Vancouver.

But he knows it now.

"We were watching here live last night," Kelsey said. "There was a crowd of 300 people screaming and yelling."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 16, 2010 C6

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