Heil falls in final home event

Jennifer Heil tries to salvage her run after she missed her first jump in the FIS mogul finals at...

Jennifer Heil tries to salvage her run after she missed her first jump in the FIS mogul finals at Canada Olympic Park, Alta. on Jan. 29, 2011. (James MacKenzie/QMI Agency)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:00 PM ET

CALGARY — As swan songs go, Jenn Heil’s fell out of tune.

In her final competition on home soil, the Canadian moguls ace slipped and hit the snow just after her opening jump, instantly knocking her out of medal contention in the freestyle moguls World Cup.

Heil announced early this week this season would be her last and she wanted to finish out on top at Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park.

“I couldn’t really believe that it happened,” said the Spruce Grove, Alta. native, who was comforted at the bottom of the course by coach Dominick Gauthier.

“I was disappointed because I wanted to have a good run for everybody here. Just seeing my family and Dominic and him being so proud of me...It’s emotional.

“I’m so lucky and fortunate to have the opportunities with so many people behind me. I feel a lot of gratitude.”

It was almost a changing of the guard for the women's moguls team.

With Heil finishing 12th, Audrey Robichaud of Quebec City finished second behind American Hannah Kearney to get one Canadian on the podium.

On the men's side, Olympic champion Alexandre Bilodeau was knocked out of top spot by teammate Mikael Kingsbury, an 18-year-old sophomore from Deux-Montagnes, Que.

Despite feeling sympathy for Heil, Robichaud could hardly contain her excitement for her second podium finish this season.

“It’s heart breaking because it’s her last World Cup in Canada,” the 22-year-old said of Heil. “This is her home. It’s sad to see her fall. She will be truly missed in our sport.

“I’m really excited about the world championship next week. We went through all the conditions this week. It was spring conditions for qualifications. Yesterday it was super icy and today was snow. It was firm but with snow. It was hard to manage the right speed.

“It was harder this week than any other week. It changed so much.”

Bilodeau had nothing but praise for Kingsbury, who grew up having Bilodeau as one of his idols, despite having to give up the gold medal to him.

Kingsbury scored 24.25 points to Bilodeau’s 24.16 with a twisting 1080.

“He’s not an up-and-comer anymore,” said Bilodeau, who was the hero of Vancouver with Canada’s first gold medal on home soil.

“He’s here and he’s here to stay. He’s one of the leaders in the world.

“We have an Olympic champion in our back pocket that Canada doesn’t know about yet. He’s so talented. The other guy who had that talent was Dale Begg-Smith, and he left Canada.

“Mikael is a talented athlete and he has a great work ethic. We look great for the future.”

Kingsbury is pumped to get accolades from Bilodeau.

“It’s awesome to hear that from him because he’s the Olympic champion,” Kingsbury said. “He’s giving me a lot just training with him. He’s a great guy to follow.

“We’re good friends. I’m super happy about the result, not knocking him out of first place.”

The season isn’t finished for Heil. She has a chance to go out on top at the world championships next weekend in Deer Valley, Utah.

There is no reason for the fall other than a bad skip off a mogul.

The massive snowfall overnight made the course treacherous.

“I had such great training yesterday and I felt great this morning,” Heil said. “I got caught in some snow.

“I don’t know how it happened. It’s emotional for it to be the last time here. I tried to come out and lay it out on the course.

“I had to go for it and I made a mistake. It’s unfortunately sport.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ianbusby57


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