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Begg-Smith, `Spam Man,' Wins Gold in Olympic Moguls (Update1)


Feb. 16 (Bloomberg) -- The ``Spam Man'' is now Australia's third gold-medal winner in the history of the Winter Olympics.

Dale Begg-Smith, a freestyle skier and Internet innovator, won the gold in moguls skiing at the Winter Games in Turin, Italy. It wasn't his first contact with signs of wealth.

Begg-Smith, a 21-year-old native of Vancouver, British Columbia, who now lives primarily in Melbourne, is the founder of a Web pop-up ad company and worth $40 million, according to estimates by the Herald Sun and other Australian newspapers. The official Web site of the Olympics said he drives a $300,000 Lamborghini.

Begg-Smith refused to discuss details of the company at his post-race news conference yesterday. He said stories of his fortune were exaggerated.

``The company is nowhere near as big as people make it out to be,'' said Begg-Smith, dubbed ``Spam Man'' by Australian journalists.

His gold from moguls, where a skier bounces through a course filled with humps of snow like a sort of human pinball, joins those won in 2002 by Australians in short-track speedskating and women's freestyle skiing.

``I'm really happy to win a gold medal for Australia,'' Begg-Smith said.

He's less than pleased to talk about his business.

In an interview with Australia's Age newspaper published on Feb. 14, Begg-Smith refused to give his company's name. A 2002 news release described him as president of AdsCPM Network. Internet searches didn't find any listing for a company with that name.

Lamborghini

The International Olympic Committee's Web site said that Begg-Smith runs an Internet pop-up advertising company that he describes as the third largest of its kind. The IOC website also said he drives a Lamborghini in Vancouver, where he still lives part of the year.

His sports success is easier to document.

Dale and his older brother Jason left Canada for Melbourne when Dale was 15 because the Canadian Junior Ski Team wouldn't let them divide their time as they wished between school, skiing, and their nascent Internet ventures. Steve Desovich, a Canadian coach who had emigrated to Australia, convinced them to try out for his new country.

``I was very busy when I was young, so I couldn't get to all the training camps,'' Begg-Smith said after his win. ``I was pretty young, I was going to school and trying to do other stuff, too.''

The brothers had to sit out two years of competition to be able to switch countries. After his first year skiing for Australia, Dale was 18th in the World Cup rankings for the 2003-2004 season, finished second the next season and took bronze at the Freestyle World Championships in March 2005 in Ruka, Finland.

In Turin, he led the moguls from qualifying through the final, where he performed a back flip with a cross at the top and finished with 26.77 points. Mikko Ronkainen of Finland won the silver medal and Toby Dawson of the U.S. won the bronze.

Jason Begg-Smith, 25, finished 29th in yesterday's race.

Australia's previous Winter Olympic gold medalists were aerials skier Alisa Camplin and speedskater Steven Bradbury.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gregory Viscusi at the Winter Olympics in Turin through the London office on at gviscusi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Collins in London at collinsc@bloomberg.net

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