Heil Wins Gold in Torino
Canada’s Jennifer Heil captured Olympic gold in women’s moguls Saturday in Sauze d’Oulx, Italy, four years after narrowly missing the podium in Salt Lake City.
Heil, the last skier down the hill by virtue of her first-place finish in the qualifying round earlier in the day, posted a score of 26.50, 0.85 points better than silver medallist Kari Traa of Norway, the 2002 Olympic champion. Sandra Laoura of France took bronze, 1.13 points back of Heil.
“I don’t know what to say, this has been my biggest dream. I didn’t know it could come true,” said a jubilant Heil, who is from Spruce Grove, Alta.
Heil’s jumps – a 360-degree spin and a backflip with her skis crossed – weren’t as difficult as Traa’s “D-Spin” on the top ramp, a double-twisting jump in which her body goes nearly parallel to the mountain. But the Canadian executed her tricks almost flawlessly and received a superior air score.
Heil also scored higher than Traa on speed and form on the moguls, which counts for 75 per cent of a skier’s final tally.
“I just felt so well-prepared,” Heil said. “I was more relaxed than I’ve ever been in the start gate, which actually surprised me. But I knew it was just a sign I was ready to go out.”
Heil’s gold was Canada’s first medal of the 2006 Winter Games and the first Olympic medal of her career. It was also the first gold by a Canadian woman in moguls.
The 22-year-old finished fourth at the 2002 Games, missing the bronze by one hundredth of a point.