HEIL SOARS AGAIN
What looked bleak three weeks ago now looks like a lock.
Jenn Heil, for the fourth straight season, is almost certain to be World Cup moguls ski champion.
The pride of Spruce Grove won her third consecutive race of the freestyle ski season - the 15th of her career - at Inasashiro, Japan, the site of her first World Cup win back in 2002.
THREE EVENTS LEFT
With three events remaining on the World Cup calendar, including today's dual moguls event at the same course, Heil could put it away. Or she could save it for another day and clinch the crown as queen of bumps and jumps in the second-last event back in Canada, at Apex in B.C., next weekend.
Heil, who finished 11th in her disastrous opening race of the season in Quebec has never won a World Cup event in Canada but has won medals in five of six events a season which has forced several cancellations due to a lack of snow.
And with her nearest competitor Shannon 'Sparky' Bahrke a distant 14th yesterday, Heil now had 484 points and a 147-point lead on the American who won the first two events of the season.
A win is worth 100 points.
Heil won it big with a score of 26.42. American Michelle Roark was a distant second in 24.37. Stephanie St-Pierre of Victoriaville, Que., took the bronze with 24.10 on a course where she twice seriously injured her left knee.
A REAL 'SKIER'S COURSE'
"I always perform well here. It's definitely a skier's course, and I love the challenge," said Heil, the 23-year-old Turin 2006 Olympic gold medal winner.
Corresponding with Sun Media by e-mail instead of telephone as usual after an event due to the time zone involved, Heil said the degree of difficulty worked for her.
"It's the world's most difficult course. The top jump is very difficult to land with the speed off the jump on the very steep landing. Perhaps it could be compared to shooting out of a cannon," Heil wrote.
"I skied one of the best runs of my life. I set the pace very aggressive out of the start gate and carried that through.
"Of course I had to downsize the top jump which was a 360 in order to make the turns after, but I skied out very smooth.
"I continued the explosive skiing through the middle and brought lots of speed into the bottom jump for my back flip and I really turned to the finish line.
"I was really excited to be able to put down this performance on such a difficult course."
Heil's coach Dominick Gauthier was also impressed.
"Considering the difficulty of the course, it's the best run all-time," he said.