Oakley Olympic Hopefuls Visit Home of Santa

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Oakley took a chilly trip up to the Arctic Circle for a pair of World Cup races in Suomu, Finland over the weekend.

Claimed to be the residence of Santa Claus (at least by Japanese tourists), this region of Lapland near the Russian border is also home to the world’s most northern McDonald’s. The Oakley crew opted for Reindeer over Big Macs, eating a roasted version of the non-flying variety three nights in a row. Behind the facade of holiday cheer, the locals in Rovaniemi were quite cranky. Smiles are few and far between in this part of the world where the sun barely shines four hours a day and temperatures routinely dip to thirty below zero.

But wherever skiers congregate is a guaranteed good time and Oakley’s Olympic hopefuls made the most of it.

Due to a lack of snow in Meribel, France last week, two moguls events were held in Suomu over the course of three days.

Oakley’s Alexandre Bilodeau from Montreal, who in 2006 became the youngest athlete to win a World Cup moguls event, had a third-place Friday and fourth on Saturday.

Countrywoman and fellow Oakley athlete Jennifer Heil from Alberta placed fifth on Friday and took home a bronze medal on Saturday. Heil is no stranger to the podium, having secured four consecutive World Cup titles and earning 18 gold and 12 silver medals in addition to her gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino.

“My transmission got a little bit jammed in third, but I was ready to get into fourth,” said Heil, 26.

Bilodeau, the reigning World Cup overall champion, admitted he was perplexed by the judging but pleased by his own skiing on Saturday’s race. “I did my best run today in the finals, but my score was higher in the qualifications this morning. My skiing’s really good. I’m where I want to be, but I have no control over the judging. It’s harder to see the difference between a good skier and a great skier on an easier course like this."

Next up for the moguls team is a pair of World Cup races in Calgary, Jan. 8 and 9.