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Heil defends World Cup moguls title

Moreau, Omischl claim silver medals in Far East



At 21, Jennifer Heil of Spruce Grove, Alberta is already making history for the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team.

In 2002 she came close to an Olympic medal in Salt Lake City with a fourth-place finish. She spent most of the 2003 season recovering from an injury, but came back in 2004 to become the first Canadian woman to ever win the women’s World Cup moguls title with three wins and nine podium appearances.

Last weekend while competing at Naeba, Japan, Heil defended that title with her second victory in as many weeks.

Heil took it easy in the morning, still nursing a broken thumb from training early in the season, but turned it on in the afternoon to win the competition.

"I really didn’t push it in the morning, and I knew what I had to change," said Heil. "I was a little bit frustrated, but I used that energy to go really big. The only way I knew I could win was to go as hard as I could."

With two more World Cup events on the horizon, Heil now has such a strong lead in the overall points that nobody will be able to catch her.

Kari Traa of Norway finished second to Heil while Jillian Vogtli of the U.S. claimed the bronze. Three other Canadian women qualified in the top 16: Stéphanie St-Pierre in eighth, Elisa Kuylowicz in ninth and Whistler’s Sylvia Kerfoot in 12 th .

In the men’s competition, Jeremy Bloom clinched the World Cup title with his fifth consecutive win.

Canada’s Marc-Andre Moreau earned his first silver medal with a performance that left him within half a point of Bloom.

"This year I’ve been trying some new stuff, but it was just a matter of having to put it together," said Moreau. "I was a little bit stressed because I had two bad competitions in a row, but I just told myself to trust myself. I was really in my own bubble."

Third place went to Dale Begg-Smith, his third podium in as many weeks. Begg-Smith grew up in Whistler, moved to Vancouver, and currently competes for Australia. He was too involved with his business to commit to the Canadian team training schedule, but worked out an agreement with the Australian Institute of Sport that allowed him to train on his own.

Another high note of the day was the performance of David Babic of the U.S. Babic pushed the envelope a little further on Saturday by landing the first corked 1080 in a World Cup competition.

Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau finished fifth for Canada, continuing to show improvement after breaking his neck in training last season.

Stéphane Agnard was 14 th and Warren Tanner 16 th .

The Canadian team claimed two more medals in China over the weekend, with solid performances in Changchun, China.

Steve Omischl of North Bay, Ontario picked up the silver medal, his second in as many weeks, while Deidra Dionne of Red Deer, Alberta snapped out of her slump to claim the women’s bronze.

Sen Qiu of China showed the world how far their national program has come by snapping up the gold medal ahead of Omischl. Alexei Grichin of Belarus was third.

Ottawa’s Jeff Bean also made it into the finals, finishing sixth.

Nina Li of China won the women’s event, followed by Lydia Ierodioconou of Australia. The two are battling for the overall title, although with three wins in a row Li definitely has the momentum.

The next moguls and aerials competition is at Sauze d’Oulx, Italy this weekend.

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