Canada's Heil closes moguls career with silver
Canadians finish 2nd and 3rd in men's and women's finals
Canadian freestyle skier Jenn Heil captured every title imaginable over her stellar career.
She won Olympic gold at the Turin Games in 2006, picked up a pair of world championship titles and earned a staggering 58 World Cup medals along the way.
When she looks back at the last decade, a silver medal performance stands out as her top memory. She said she'll never forget the roar from the home crowd at the Vancouver Olympics last year.
"When my name was announced and the mountain vibrated from the support of the Canadians," Heil said. "That was truly the greatest moment."
Heil, from Spruce Grove, Alta., capped her career Sunday with a silver medal in the dual moguls at the final World Cup of the season, part of a four-medal day for Canada.
She lost control in the middle section of her final run and had to pull out before her second jump, giving American Hannah Kearney the gold.
"I have nothing left to do on the hill and that's a beautiful ending for me," Heil said. "I'm so at peace. I know I'll miss the competition and the privilege of representing Canada around the world, but I'm ready to take my passion for challenging my limits and my potential off the slopes."
Montreal's Justine Dufour-Lapointe beat Kristi Richards of Summerland, B.C., in the women's small final for the bronze. Guilbaut Colas of France defeated Mikael Kingsbury of Deux Montagnes, Que., in the men's final while Montreal native Alexandre Bilodeau won bronze.
But this day was all about Heil, who announced in January that she would retire at the end of this season.
"She's a living legend for our sport," Bilodeau said. "A Hall of Famer."
Heil said two of her proudest moments were being at the top of the Olympic courses in 2006 and 2010.
"It's funny that my greatest moments are at the start lines, not the finish lines," she said. "It's never been about how many medals I can win. Of course we define success by medals but for me it's always been about testing my limits."
Canada clinched the Freestyle Nations Cup for the fifth straight season and Dufour-Lapointe was named FIS rookie of the year.
"I'm really proud of myself," said Dufour-Lapointe. "I think I managed to show my energetic personality on the hill and that's the secret to my success."
Heil said she's happy to pass the torch to Dufour-Lapointe.
"She has the competitive spirit, passion and ability to soar in her career," Heil said. "And, if she needs any advice or mentoring, I'll be there for her."
Quebec City's Audrey Robichaud was fifth on the day and third in the moguls standings behind Kearney and Heil, who were also 1-2 in the overall standings for all FIS freestyle disciplines.
"This season was really great, I think I had a breakthrough with my skiing," Robichaud said. "I'm really happy with third place."
Colas moved past Austrian ski cross champion Andreas Matt in the men's overall freestyle standings. The Frenchman also won the moguls title ahead of Bilodeau and Kingsbury. Kearney claimed the women's overall title last weekend in Sweden.
It was a breakout season for Kingsbury, who won two world championship medals and finished with 10 medals overall.
"My secret is my consistency and the fact that I always feel confident in the start gate," he said. "I now know what to do to be on the podium."
Bilodeau beat Eddie Hicks of Langley, B.C., in the small final.
As for Heil, she will now focus her attention on coaching and her humanitarian work. She does so with no regrets.
"It's time to turn the page and meet the new challenges in life and find success off my skis."