February 25, 2006
Sponsors lining up
SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

The whole Heil family knows they've got an Olympic hero and a role model in their Golden Girl.

But Jennifer Heil could also become the model which other Canadian medal hopefuls follow towards the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Instead of waiting for more handouts from the federal government, Heil actively sought out her own financial support team before the 2006 Games in Turin. Longtime sponsors were joined by new ones and she topped that off with private backing from those she convinced of her pending success.

That model allowed her to have her own coach in Murray Cluff, a conditioning guru in Scott Livingston and a personal healer in osteopath David Campbell.

"She has this team, which has really made her strong," explained her mother Heather McSporran-Heil.

"She'd like to take this model and have corporate Canada step up to the plate coming into 2010. They could fly with this model and offer it to as many athletes as possible. We had so many fourths at this Olympics and so many other top finishes this time, maybe we could turn all of those into medals in 2010."

While her parents take an active role in advising Heil, they won't take the lead in her business decisions. The agent Heil is currently shopping for should presumably be able to get a lot of mileage in terms of sponsorship and spokesman opportunities for the girl with the gold medal and toothy grin.

Just don't bet on Jenn appearing in another racy photo spread. A year ago, Heil was nude but covered by a white sheet on the cover and inside pages of Ski Presse.

"That did create quite a stir," smiled her mom. "But what she has done is really bridge amateur sport between the East and West. She has financial support from both ends of the country, she's an Alberta girl but goes to school in Montreal and she speaks English and French.

"She won this medal for Canada. She's been embraced by both ends of the country and both assisted in delivering this gold."