Heil hyped for Games

DARREN FRIESEN -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

At the age of 21, Jennifer Heil has no shortage of confidence.

In addition to a four-year career on the World Cup freestyle circuit, Heil has already competed in an Olympic Games, plus won the Crystal Globe as the overall mogul champion. But experience aside, the Spruce Grove, Alta., native admits a newly developed weekend workshop put on by the Canadian Olympic Committee has given her the edge to be even more successful.

"It was a big forum where we brought in Canadian Olympic medallists and they talked to us about their planning and how they achieved their success," said Heil.

"It was also an opportunity to meet the other athletes, so when we arrive at the Olympics we feel more like a team rather than just a bunch of individuals representing Canada.

"That was really amazing and it's planned again for this year, which shows there's definitely a lot more initiative and people are definitely talking about it more."

Heil will be one of the favourites to pull in some of the hardware, which should be guaranteed by a powerful Canadian freestyle unit.

Alongside Heil, Elisa Kurylowicz of Ottawa and Chambly, Que., native Marc-Andre Moreau will be athletes to watch during the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

Both Kurylowicz and Moreau will compete in their first Olympics, however they've both won on the World Cup before, meaning podiums are a possibilty.

On the ramps, returning to next year's competition is Red Deer native Deidra Dionne, who captured a bronze in the aerials at Salt Lake. Also, Jeff Bean of Ottawa and fellow Ontario native Steve Omischl will both be counted on to contribute to the medal haul.

After narrowly missing the podium, placing fourth by 1-100th of a point in '02, Heil is glad the COC stepped up to give athletes some more mental support.

"There was about five or six Canadian Olympic medallists that impacted me -- all athletes I'd watched growing up," she said.

"It was pretty neat to hear the stories and I think I could take a part of what they said from everyone and apply that to myself. There was a lot of valuable information."


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