Didier Defago struck gold for Switzerland in the blue riband men’s downhill skiing competition on Whistler Mountain.
Defago, 18th on the start list, made his vast experience count as he clocked 1:54.31.
Monthey-born Defago, 32, then watched as Swiss pre-race favourite Didier Cuche, fellow Swiss Carlo Janka and Canadian hope Manuel Osborne-Paradis produced disappointing runs.
Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, last year’s overall World Cup winner, took the silver medal with a time of 1:54.38 and American extrovert Bode Miller claimed the bronze in 1:54.40.
The 32-year-old Defago, who shot to stardom when he completed the famed Wengen-Kitzbuehel double last season, said: “I knew I could do something on this course. After three Olympic Games and a lot of World Championships I think my experience made a bit of difference.
“It is one of the most beautiful days of my life. The conditions were perfect for me. I knew I would do well but I never expected to do this well.”
Erik Guay was the highest placed Canadian in fifth with a time of 1:54.64.
Miller, a 2005 world champion, was eighth on the start list and took the early lead with a time of 1:54.40. He held it until Svindal overhauled him.
After Defago took the lead Osborne-Paradis was next to go and, roared on by the Canadian fans, he made a promising start. But a couple of mistakes on the lower part of the course left he well out of the reckoning with a time of 1:55.44.
Janka, with two World Cup wins to his name this season, disappointed with a time of 1:55.02 and Cuche, leading the World Cup standings coming into Olympics, lost time on the bottom half of the course and could only manage 1:54.67.
Canadian youngster Robbie Dixon fell on the top half of the course, American Marco Sullivan suffered the same fate and final Canadian hope Jan Hudec could not threaten with a time of 1:56.19.
Earlier Sweden’s Charlotte Kalla took the gold medal in the women’s 10km free cross country competition at Whistler Olympic Park with a time of 10:15.30.
Kristina Smigun-Vaehi of Estonia took the silver in 10:08.30 with Marit Bjoergen of Norway claming the bronze in 10:14.00.
Australian Alex Pullin led the way in men’s snowboard cross qualification 1:20.15.
American Seth Wescott dashed Canadian hopes in the men’s snowboard cross final on Cypress Mountain.
When Wescott’s team-mate Nate Holland took a tumble Canada’s Mike Robertson was clear in the lead and looked to be on course for gold.
But with Wescott pushing hard and Robertson too cautious the American caught and overtook his rival to edge home in a thrilling finish.
Tony Ramoin of France took the bronze medal.
Earlier Swiss Dario Cologna took the gold in the men’s 15km free cross country skiing competition at Whistler Olympic Park in a time of 33:36.3. Silver went to Italian Pietro Piller Cottrer, who clocked 34:00.9. Lukas Bauer of the Czech Republic claimed the bronze in 34:12.0.