Mogul 'mama' still flying

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 1:53 PM ET

FERNIE, B.C. -- It came down to young versus old. And in the end, experience prevailed. But just barely.

Norway's Kari Traa managed to hold off Canadian Jennifer Heil in the final of the women's moguls' competition at the World Cup freestyle Grand Prix yesterday.

A slight miscue on Heil's first jump gave the very savvy Traa the slight advantage, plus another World Cup gold medal.

"I really wanted to go down hard and show Kari how hard I've been training," said Heil, 21.

"I think I was a little sloppy on my top landing, so that cost me but I gave everything I had. Kari's just an amazing skier but it was a great day for me."

Americans Jillian Vogtli and Laurel Shanley battled for the bronze, with Vogtli beating her teammate.

Stephanie St. Pierre of Victoriaville, Que., was 12th, while Sylvia Keerfoot from Vancouver finished 16th.

On the men's side, it was all Stars and Stripes.

Nathan Roberts and overall World Cup points leader Travis Mayer both gave very solid performances for the U.S. but it was the former emerging as the ultimate victor.

"Last year, I finished second and I didn't want to do that again," said Roberts.

"From training this morning to qualifying to the duals, each one seemed to be consistent. I was able to stay on course all day, it felt good."

Russian bump master Rusian Sharifulin rounded out the top three after he beat former World Cup champion Mikko Ronkainen of Finland.

The Canadian men didn't have a stellar day on the soft, sloppy course on the Fernie slopes.

Marc-Andre Moreau managed to make it to the round of eight but was eventually defeated by Roberts.

However, one bright spot for Canada was the performance of development team member Garrett Simm of Prince George, B.C., who finished 12th.

Skiing in his first World Cup duals moguls competition, Simm shocked many by making the finals but was eventually brought back down to earth by Ronkainen.

"I made it to the top 16 and that was good enough for me," said Simm. "After you get bumped out by one of the top five in the world, you can't complain."

Even though Heil was last year's overall FIS champion and is leading this season's point race, she has yet to beat the 31-year-old Traa in duals race. Most World Cup races, including the Olympics, are singles-based events.

The dual event is reserved only for the Fernie World Cup and also the one in Deer Valley, Utah, which will take place next weekend.

Going head-to-head against her childhood idol was something Heil has wanted to do since she began her skiing career.

"I've been dreaming about it since my first year on the World Cup. I love racing her, she's such a talent," said Heil.

"Duals is a lot of fun. I'm really glad we had it this time of year because it really gets you in the mindset that you need to push it. I've never pushed that hard in a singles run and I hope I can take that momentum into the next race."

Traa, the 2002 Olympic champion, doesn't like the duals as much as her young prodigy, but does agree the women tend to push it much more.

"I'm an old mama here," said Traa. "I can feel it, I'm getting tired. I'm glad the course is so short.

"I hate duals, I've never liked 'em but it's still fun to win. It's fun standing on the top and you never know who's going to win. The girls are pushing each other these days, which is a lot different from three or four years ago."


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