Silver 'bell' for Heil

Jenn Heil of Spruce Grove, Alta., right, is congratulated by close friends and competitors Kari...

Jenn Heil of Spruce Grove, Alta., right, is congratulated by close friends and competitors Kari Traa of Norway, left, and Hannah Kearney of the United States following Heil's final race of her career in Myrkdalen-Voss, Norway, Sunday. Heil won the silver, while Kearney took the gold and overall World Cup title. (Mike Ridewood, QMI Agency)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:21 PM ET

EDMONTON - To Jenn Heil it was a moment to frame a career.

“I hear it’s a pretty neat picture,” she said of the shot she didn’t even know was being taken when her idol and the original queen of bumps and jumps, Norway’s Kari Traa, came up to her after the race to congratulate her on her World Cup career which came to a conclusion Sunday.

Standing there sharing the moment with them is the new leading lady of moguls skiing, Hannah Kearney of the U.S.A.

“I think that was the highlight, having Kari here for me,” said Heil of the day her World Cup career came to completion.

“She was always the one I looked up to the most, the one who took our sport to the next level and inspired me to take it to the next level.

“There were lots of hugs in the finish area and I’ll treasure the one from her the most.”

It was emotional in dozens of different directions.

“There’s been so much emotion all year,” she said in a telephone interview after she’d caught the train and left the Norwegian town of Myrkdalen-Voss to go forward with her future which will include being honoured at the Canadian championships this weekend in Val St. Come, Que.

“I knew, this being my last one, I was going to have the emotions, I just didn’t know how, where and when.

“There were tears with Dom (Gauthier) the night before,” she said of her coach and significant other who also called it a career Sunday.

“His passion really got me through,” she said of the man who will now take over the administration of her legacy, the B2ten elite athlete funding program which grew out of her Edmonton sponsorship group put together by Doug Goss.

But emotion was provided by the entire Canadian team, too.

“Before the first round (Sunday) the whole team cheered for me. It was so hard to push back the tears and get the lump out of my throat to get down the hill,” she said.

From an actual competition point of view it was kind of anti-climatic.

Heil, three events previous, had won world championships in both singles and dual moguls to cap her incredible career which ranks up there in the rare air with the greatest of all local international individual sports legends, including figure skater Kurt Browning and bobsledder Pierre Lueders.

There would be no way to top that for the pride of Spruce Grove who goes into the history books as the only female mogul skier to win the grand slam combination of FIS Rookie of the Year honours, dual and singles world championships and (five) Crystal Globes as World Cup series champion.

But she came close to going out on top and in the end felt like she did.

It all came to a conclusion with Heil winning her 58th World Cup medal — a 25th silver to go with 25 gold and eight bronze in a schedule-ending dual moguls event Sunday.

“I definitely left my heart on the course at the world championships in Deer Valley,” she said of the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic venue where she finished fourth by 1/100th of a point.

“But I thought it was important to finish off what I started.”

Since she won silver at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics — other than the two world championship golds — silver was the story of her final season including her spot in the final standings, with Kearney winning the World Cup title with 1,009 points and Heil second at 712, the two far ahead of the rest of the field.

While Heil lost control in the middle section of her final run and had to pull out before her final jump to give Vancouver 2010 Olympic gold-medal winner Kearney the win to cap her Crystal Globe season, Heil was happy at the end of the day.

“I know I’ll miss the competition and the privilege of representing Canada around the world, but I am ready to take my passion for challenging my limits and my potential off the slopes.

“I skied (Sunday) like I have every run of my career. I laid my heart out on the course,” she said. “I have nothing left to do on the hill and that’s a beautiful ending for me.

“I am so at peace.”

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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