Dual moguls delight

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:11 AM ET

Jennifer Heil. World champion.

It didn't come in the Olympic event, the singles moguls. It came a day late in the dual moguls at the World Freestyle ski championships 30 kilometres from the Arctic Circle.

But the words are the same.

Jennifer Heil. World champion.

And, in a way, maybe it was better to win this way. All's well that ends well. It's how you leave 'em. That sort of thing.

Heil now heads to the Torino Winter Olympics as back-to-back Crystal Globe-winner of the World Cup title, and now, for the first time in her life, world champion.

Saturday she lost to the rest. Yesterday, she beat the best.

"This is amazing," said the soon-to-turn 22-year-old on her cellphone from Ruka, Finland, between the moment she won and the moment she climbed to the podium.

"This is so exciting. I had nothing left in my tank. I was so glad it was Kari Traa against me. She brings out the best in me."

Heil finished fifth in the traditional singles the day before, in one of those "spit happens" days that happen maybe a tad too frequently in her sport.

VS. ALL-TIME QUEEN

But a day later it was Heil vs. the all-time queen of bumps and jumps in the final dual for the championship in the side-by-side event, which has yet to be accepted into the Olympics but now makes up a third of the tour's schedule.

Kari Traa, 31, of Norway was the superstar of her sport until the Spruce Grove shooting star came along.

Traa is the one they all owe, taking her sport to a new level in her time as queen of the hill.

She won the Olympic gold in Salt Lake. She won 2001 and 2003 world championships. She finished second to Heil in the World Cup standings for the Crystal Globe this year.

She was 15th in the singles run, 10 positions back of Heil, on Saturday.

"We both had a day to forget the day before and we both wanted to come back and win our last event of the season," said Heil.

"Winning the Crystal Globe is still on the top shelf," said Heil of her accomplishments since missing a bronze medal by .01 points at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake.

"But this definitely ranks up there," she added of her first world championship gold.

DUG DEEP

The event is held every two years and Heil missed the last one, taking the entire post-Olympic year off to recharge and begin her college education.

"I'm so excited I was able to dig deep," she added "I had to work really hard to turn the pace around.

"After what happened to me the day before, it was really important that I could bounce back and perform in this event.

"The day before, I didn't push myself. I said I'd turn the page and do what I didn't do in the singles and I did. I knew I had to really push myself. Having Kari Traa there really helped," she added of the Norwegian who is both her idol and her rival.

"She's such a great skier. She's the one I measure myself against," said Heil.

Heil admits she'd have preferred to have won the singles event because it is the Olympic event.

"Coming here, singles was first and foremost," she said.

But with the way it went, with both herself and Traa off the podium in singles but in the final in duals, not a lot was lost.

And a world championship was won.

"It's my first world championship. Two Crystal Globes and a world championship is pretty good, I guess."

That, and maybe there was a lesson in there somewhere, too?


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