Heil can't end Canada's gold drought

Mogul specialist happy with silver medal

By QMI Agency


Canadian silver medalist Jenn Heil, left, poses for photos with gold medalist Heather McPhie (3) and bronze medalist Shannon Bahrke following the women's moguls final at Cypress Mountain Saturday, Feb 13, 2010. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY)


WEST VANCOUVER — Jennifer Heil was soaked to the bone, cold and had failed to defend her gold medal in the women’s moguls event from the Turin Olympics four years ago.

But was she upset? Apparently not.

In fact, the Spruce Grove, Alta. native said that her silver medal Saturday night was “in many ways” better than the gold medal she won four years ago in Turin.

“I felt like I was standing on the shoulders of so many Canadians. I felt like I had their wings on my back,” said a surprisingly ecstatic Heil, after she finished second to American rival Hannah Kearney, who won the gold. “This is Canada’s medal.”

Heil was second heading into Saturday’s final and had a solid run to take over the lead from Kearney, the 2005 world champion. But the American, who was first heading into the final and last down the course, which was hit with high winds and driving sleet, skied even better, crossing the finish line in 27.86 seconds, .05 of a second faster than the Canadian. Kearney won the gold with a score of 26.63, while Heil managed 25.69. Shannon Bahrke of the U.S. was third (25.43), while 18-year-old Chloe Dufour-Lapointe Montreal put together a solid run to move up to fifth from ninth after the qualifying round (23.87).

Kristi Richards of Summerland, B.C., the 2007 world champion and winner of a World Cup in Finland this season, was one of four skiers in the final who crashed, as shedropped from fourth to 20th.

“I think I skied almost 10 moguls past where I thought I was going to blow out, so I really did push myself and gave it my all and that’s all I could do,” Richards said.

No excuse

Heil refused to use the weather conditions as an excuse.

“I definitely feel I could have done a little bit more in my actual run. There’s no doubt about it, I was shooting for gold tonight, but I really do feel like I won silver,” she said.

As Heil made her way towards the main press centre, she was stopped when she came upon a group of cars sitting in the parking lot, their lights flashing. Waiting in the rain was Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who met the Montreal resident with a hug when she arrived. Heil said the support she received from all Canadians heading into Saturday’s event has been overwhelming.

“It’s such an exciting time for sport in Canada right now, the way we’ve been embraced and the way are embracing sport,” she said. “That’s why this medal’s for Canada.”

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

POLL