TORINO: Freestyle: Begg-Smith tops moguls qualifying; 4 Americans in{mosimage}Australian freestyle skier Dale Begg-Smith qualified in first place Wednesday for the moguls final, putting him on track to win only his country’s third ever Winter Olympic gold medal.

Travis Cabral of the United States qualified second with a score of 24.88 while Canada’s Marc-Andre Moreau was third with 24.69 as the starting field of 35 was whittled down to 20 finalists.

All four Americans qualified, with Cabral in second, two-sport star Jeremy Bloom in fourth, Toby Dawson in sixth and Travis Mayer in seventh.

Bloom will head back to the United States shortly after Wednesday’s event to start preparing for next week’s NFL scouting combine, where coaches look for young talent for their teams.

The current World Cup leader, Begg-Smith has been off the podium only twice this year in World Cup events.

He went into first place for Wednesday night’s final with a score of 25.40 – made up of points for speed, technique and the two jumps skiers make on their way down the track.

Defending gold medalist Janne Lathela of Finland finished 10th.

Skiers are placed in reverse order of their qualifying finish for finals, meaning Begg-Smith will go last under the lights in Sauze d’Oulx.

Short-track speedskater Steven Bradbury and freestyle skier Alisa Camplin are the only other Australians to win winter golds, both of them winning four years ago in Salt Lake City.

The Associated Press

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