She didnt have the biggest or most technical jumps, but perfect turns and speed were all Jennifer Heil of Spruce Grove, Alberta needed to win the Olympic Gold medal on Saturday in the night moguls at Sauze dOulx Canadas first (and so far only gold) of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.
Heil is no stranger to the podium, with world championship and World Cup titles to her credit in recent years in fact, its a rare event where she finishes outside of the top-five, and shes already taken the overall moguls title even though she struggled early in the season.
Coming into this Olympic year, she made a risky decision not to boost the degree of difficult rating for her jumps, a 360 off the top air and a backflip-iron cross off the bottom air.
With Kari Traa laying down a near-perfect run just moments before, scoring a 25.65, Heil knew she had to be even better. She scored the highest turn scores of the day with an aggressive line down the middle, as well as the second-fastest run behind Laoura Sandra of France, who went on to finish third behind Traa. Her jumps were also solid, earning her close to perfect at a lower level of difficulty.
The net result was a score of 26.50, 0.85 ahead of Traa.
"The big thing is Ive never been able to ski so quick and with such turns," Heil told the CBC. "I had the best turns of my life both in the semis and in the finals and just skied very light."
Hinting at the strength of the national freestyle team, three other Canadians qualified for the finals. Kristi Richards of Summerland, and Audrey Robichaud and Stephanie St. Pierre of Quebec were eighth, ninth and 12 th respectively.
Lipscomb gets to the finals
By Bob Mackin
BARDONECCHIA, ITALY Whistlers Crispin Lipscomb is among the dirty dozen of mens halfpipe riders.
Lipscomb finished 11 th in the 12-man Olympic final at Bardonecchia Sunday, ensuring himself continued funding from Sport Canada as he looks forward to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
"Getting to the finals is the first step to the podium," Lipscomb said.
More than 6,000 spectators attended the halfpipe as Americans Shaun White and Daniel Kass finished with gold and silver. Bronze went to Finn Markku Koski.
"The conditions were great, the halfpipe softened up for the first time this week," Lipscomb said. "There were so many Canadians cheering us on. Im going to take a lot of confidence into the next event."