February 14, 2006
Jenn's staying!
Golden girl wants to remain in Turin; help motivate Canada
TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

TURIN -- Canada's leadoff gold medallist doesn't want to leave.

Golden girl Jenn Heil wants to stay to the end, do what she can to try to help motivate Canada which to this point hasn't followed her lead, and wants to march in the closing ceremony.

"My federation wants us to fly out of here before the end of the Olympics because of the remainder of the World Cup schedule in Asia and our one remaining race in Canada," said Heil, who has a safe lead in the World Cup standings for the rest of the Olympics.

You'd think somebody at the Canadian Olympic Committee might see the value of asking the Canadian Freestyle Skiing Association if they might borrow her to take the lead from the horde of team psychologists that has otherwise so far failed miserably in their mission.

Besides, they might need the 22-year-old from Spruce Grove - whom the nation has fallen head-over-heels in love with since she won moguls gold Saturday and had her gold- medal ceremony Sunday - to carry the flag out for the closing ceremony.

"It would be amazing to be in the closing ceremony," Heil said. "Because my event is on the first day, I haven't been in an opening ceremony, and we had to leave before the closing ceremony in Salt Lake."

Heil has been asked by the Canadian women's hockey team to speak to the players before a game here.

"I ran into a few of the hockey team girls after the medal ceremony and they wanted to see the medal," Heil said. "They wouldn't touch it, but they told me it really makes them inspired to win a gold just by seeing it."

Heil said she didn't get back to her media village in the mountains until 3 a.m. after standing on the podium, receiving her medal and watching the Canadian flag being raised and listening to O Canada being played.

"After the medal ceremony, all of us went to a restaurant," she said of her 14-member group of family and friends from Spruce Grove and Edmonton. "Then we went to the International Broadcast Centre to CBC's studios where I was requested to do an interview. They took us all on a tour ... That was cool."

She said she was finally getting some sleep when the doping control people knocked on her door. "I got a knock on my door at 9:15 a.m. for a doping test. Our rule is that one of the top five must be drawn for a random test after the fact. I was the lucky one."

She said she spent most of her day doing nothing. She answered e-mails and watched the Olympics on television with other athletes at her mini-village.

"It was nice to have a day without butterflies in my stomach and everything.

"It was just nice to feel like a normal person for a day again."

When you win Olympic gold, your life changes. But Heil said it was nice to be a basic couch potato for a day. But she's ready to become Canada's biggest fan.

"I want to go into Turin to watch some figure skating and go to a hockey game. And I love short-track speed skating. I think they're as crazy as we (freestyle skiers) are.

"I want to get to as many events as I can. I want to go out and cheer on all the other Canadian athletes. I loved having so many of them at my event to cheer me on.

"I have a big Canadian flag in my room I can't wait to take out there and use."