By Andrew Mitchell
Alberta’s Jennifer Heil is now three-for-three on the World Cup moguls circuit, picking up her third straight World Cup gold medal since the New Year last weekend at Inawashiro, Japan.
She now has medals in five out of six events, missing one finish after a crash on course, and has a solid lead in the overall points battle.
“I always perform well here. It’s definitely a skier’s course and I love the challenge,” she said. “I feel I found the groove. I’ve been able to take my competition to the next level… I was very aggressive, probably the most aggressive I’ve ever skied on this course.”
Heil, the reigning World Cup and Olympic champion, is not only the dominant skier in women’s moguls for the past three years, she is also the anchor for a team that gets better every contest.
Three weeks ago she was joined on a World Cup podium by Summerland, B.C.’s Kristi Richards. In Japan, Quebec’s Stephanie St-Pierre stood with Heil on the podium after finishing third, just behind American skier Michelle Roark.
For St-Pierre, the bronze was a form of redemption after being injured twice before on the challenging run that was used in the 1998 Nagano Winter Games.
Whistler’s Sylvia Kerfoot is also showing steady improvement. After a couple of 12 th place finishes after the New Year, she moved up a spot to 11 th with another solid run. Quebec’s Audrey Robichaud was the fourth Canadian to make the finals, placing 13 th .
On the men’s side the win went to Nathan Roberts of the U.S., followed by teammate Jay Bowman-Kirigan. Yugo Tsukita of Japan placed third. Maxime Gingras of Quebec was the top Canadian in fifth place, Alex Bilodeau was ninth, and Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau 16 th .
The dual moguls the following day was far less friendly to the Canadian skiers, with fog reducing the men’s contest to one run and canceling the women’s contest.
More than half a dozen events were already cancelled this season due to the lack of snow in Europe, and frustrated athletes were looking forward to seeing some snow in Japan.
With the short format, Vincent Marquis was the top Canadian in ninth. Whistler’s Dale Begg-Smith, competing for Australia, picked up the gold, followed by Mikko Ronkainen of Finland and Guilbaut Colas of France.
The freesytle tour returned to Canada after Japan, with events at Apex Mountain Resort this weekend.