Heil writes her happy ending

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:46 PM ET

The only thing that was missing from the storybook career of Jennifer Adelle Heil was the storybook ending.

Wednesday she wrote it.

The girl who went to sleep every night with Heidi and Howdy, the stuffed mascots from the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics when she was five, completed her remarkable journey with a final triumph.

The girl from the unlikely locale of Spruce Grove who bought a copy of Sports Illustrated’s preview edition of the Barelona Olympics four years later and taped all the pictures to her bedroom wall, wrote an incredible final chapter.

Jenn Heil authored her great goodbye on the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic course where she was 1/100th of a point short of winning a bronze medal to go with the Olympic gold she won in Torino 2006 and silver from Vancouver 2010.

The 27-year-old who spent most of the last decade as the queen of bumps and jumps, won the one event she’d never managed to win in her illustrious time at the top.

She won the world.

She’d won everything else in the world but, until Wednesday, Heil had never won the world championship in the main event of singles moguls.

“Obviously amazing,” said the daughter of Randy and Heather Heil.

“Hearing the anthem, I’m sure there was a huge smile on my face. I wouldn’t say my whole career flashed before my eyes, but it was almost like that.

“It’s hard to find the words to give it justice. The last few notes of the anthem were like such a great completion and closure to so many great experiences. I just felt so lucky to be fortunate to stand up there and have had so many people behind my goals. There were so many emotions.”

While she’d won two world championships in dual moguls and will try to make it three Saturday, Heil had never won gold in the singles event, the one featured in the Olympics. She’d twice won silver.

To do it, she had to beat Hannah Kearney, the American who scored the Olympic upset in Vancouver and has dominated the World Cup this year — Heil has won three silvers and a bronze.

But on a day of -27 C temperatures, Heil led a Canadian parade to the podium with Kristi Richards winning bronze while Alex Bilodeau captured silver and Mikael Kingsbury took bronze in the men’s event.

“Knowing it was my last world championship, I really wanted to embrace it,” said Heil, who announced her retirement, effective at the end of the season, only eight days earlier.

“My goal was to use my heart and enjoy every turn. When I heard Hannah’s score (24.31) just before I went, it really motivated me to push it more and, again, to really ski with my heart,” said Heil, who scored 24.35.

Heil’s win made her the first moguls skier, male or female, to ever win the so-called ‘grand slam’ of the sport — Olympic champion, world champion singles moguls, world champion dual moguls, World Cup moguls champion, World Cup overall freestyle champion and FIS rookie of the year.

She’s now won everything.

And nobody’s done it before.

“I certainly don’t go home and count my titles and medals. I don’t even know how many medals I’ve won.

“I didn’t have anything to prove today to myself but I’m very happy not to have to go home and answer that question again,” she said of her missing title.

She has won five Crystal Globes as World Cup points leader to match the record set by American Donna Weinbrecht, the 1992 Olympic gold medal winner.

Overall she has 25 World Cup gold, 22 silver and seven bronze to go with her two Olympic medals and two world championships dual event gold and two silver from the main singles event.

Heil says she’s not contemplating calling it a career from the top of the podium and not completing the season with the final three events in Europe.

“I’m definitely going to be there for the remaining World Cups. I just want to go out and enjoy it. Once it’s done it’s done. I want to enjoy the rest of the season with my teammates.

“I have absolutely no regrets. I am absolutely at peace with the decision. It’s just the right time.

“But I will truly miss it. This feels absolutely wonderful. This is an absolutely beautiful moment.”

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terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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