It was a stellar ending to a storybook World Championships for the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team who picked up another four medals in the Dual Mogul event here tonight, including World Championship titles for Jenn Heil and Alex Bilodeau.
After four rounds of international head-to-head finals, it all came down to the Canadians, as the old guard went against the teenage up-and comers for the title.
On the women’s side, Spruce Grove, Alberta’s Heil raced against 19-year-old Montreal-native Chloe Dufour-Lapointe. Dufour-Lapointe had already beat Olympic Champion Hannah Kearney of the USA to make it into the final round, and she put up a convincing fight against Heil, but, at the end of the day, Heil prevailed, taking her second Worlds title of this event (on Wednesday she took the Single Mogul title).
Heil, who announced last week that she will retire at the end of the season, said, “To go against Chloe, who represents the future of our sport, was amazing.”
She added that despite her incredible success here she is not going to reconsider her retirement decision, but said that the showing in Utah has given her confidence about what she is leaving behind. “The team is in such great shape, and that’s not a fluke. It’s pretty exciting the change we’ve created in sport in this country, we’ve invested, targeted and focused on excellence and now we are seeing the results, it shows what we are capable of as a nation.”
Dufour-Lapointe, who was sick with a cold earlier in the week and faltered in the single moguls, was stunned by her silver-medal accomplishment. “I can’t really believe it, I am so proud of myself and so honored to be able to ski against my hero, Jenn Heil.”
Quebec City’s Audrey Robichaud won her first dual against Japan’s Arisa Murato, but came up short against countrywoman Dufour-Lapointe. She finished the day in fifth position. Summerland’s Kristi Richards was sixth, after losing a very close dual to Kearney. A smiling Richards said, “I skied the best I could here today, and that’s all I can control, so I’m happy with my performance.”
Kearney ultimately went on to take the bronze medal in a dual against her countrywoman, Heather McPhie.
In the men’s round, Bilodeau met up with 18-year-old Deux-Montagnes, Quebec-native Mikael Kingsbury for the crown of World Champion.
As the lower qualifier for finals, Kingsbury was forced to ski a course he hadn’t skied all night. He caught an edge and lost control, giving the win to Rosemere, Quebec’s Bilodeau.
Japan’s Nobuyuki Nishi beat World Cup points leader Guilbaut Colas, from France, for the bronze medal in the small final.
“It feels great to win here,” said the Olympic Champion and defending Dual Mogul World Champion who had never before won on the Deer Valley course. “It’s super hard to defend your title when you have young guys like (Kingsbury) coming up. I’m working harder and harder to stay there, but the young guys like Mikael are pushing harder and harder too.”
Bilodeau added that he believes the success of the team, witnessed by a remarkable 16 medals for Canada, including eight World Championship titles, in four days of competition here is due in part to, the resources the team has been able to access as a result of the Own the Podium program and corporate sponsorship. “The Canadian Freestyle Association has all the resources there for us and it makes our job way easier.”
As evidence to that, two young Canadian team members also made finals at their first-ever World Championships, Cedric Rochon (St. Sauveur, Que.) and Marc-Antoine Gagnon (Terrebonne, Que.) who finished in 11th and 15th positions, respectively.
“Seeing young guys like Cedric and Marc-Antoine even make it to World Championships is a tremendous accomplishment, but to make it to finals speaks volumes about their talent and potential,” said CFSA CEO Peter Judge.
Veteran team member, Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau (Drummondville, Que.) had an uncharacteristic fall in the qualification round and finished the night in 29th.