Jenn Heil, fall keeps her winless in Canada

TERRY JONES, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

Jenn Heil waited 11 months for her crowning glory story.

The pride of Spruce Grove, who opened the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games with Canada's first gold medal, suffered through two event cancellations in Europe in December.

But finally - and at home in Canada - our nation's first Olympic champion in women's moguls freestyle skiing was in the gate hearing her name and the words "Olympic gold medallist" on the PA system.

After winning three World Cup titles, and the world championship in dual moguls, Heil had high hopes that yesterday's season opener in Mont. Gabriel, Que., would be special in her first event as Olympic champion. And it was.

"It was pretty cool,'' she said of the way it all went down.

Until she went down.

"The whole week was pretty amazing.

"The best part was all the kids with stars in their eyes. That was especially neat to me because the No. 1 thing I wanted from being an Olympic gold medal champion was to inspire and be a role model for youth.

HIGHER DEMANDS

"The demands are a lot higher than previously, the obligations are more than when I was just the World Cup champion. But I enjoyed most of it and handled it all.''

When she finished first in the semi, it certainly looked like she'd start the Vancouver 2010 Olympic quadrennial like she ended the last one. It didn't work out.

Global warming, or whatever it is, keeps spoiling Heil's return.

"It was certainly a long wait,'' she said on her cell phone not long after her day came to a crashing conclusion. "I was at the top of the hill, really, really excited after finishing first in the semis. I had family, friends and sponsors there for me. I did the best 360 I've ever done in competition ...

And then her crowning glory story went down.

"When I landed, my skis stopped in the slush and my body went forward. I couldn't stop it. I did everything I wanted to do, everything I had to do. That's the way sport is sometimes,'' said the competitor who collected a medal in 10 of 11 World Cup events last year.

"At least the season has started,'' she said.

Heil wasn't complaining about the weather. She's been a beneficiary of less than perfect conditions more often than not in her career.

"We trained in the rain and were just soaked. The visibility wasn't good. But that's all fine.

"It's just this is one of the last places you would want it to happen to you,'' said the now 23-year-old who finished 11th.

THAT WAS THEN ...

Today Jenn Heil knows she'll wake up realizing, especially after what happened here, that her Olympic gold medal win was yesterday and, as the song says, yesterday's gone.

Suddenly it's going to be a very short season and she's in 11th place.

"We know there are going to be a lot more cancellations,'' she said of the total lack of snow in several sites in Europe.

"We're on standby for the world championships a month from now in Italy. They'll probably have to be postponed and relocated. And we don't know how many World Cup events we'll be able to get in.

"Maybe only seven or eight. It's going to be important to have consistent results.''

She's the defending Olympic gold medal champion for three years and another month, but the trick now is to stay defending World Cup champion.

Jenn Heil wakes up today still the queen of bumps and jumps, but she still hasn't been crowned in Canada.

"I've won four World Cup silver medals in Canada and had great performances.

"But obviously I'm leaving here disappointed again.''

What is it with that?


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