Bilodeau leads team to three-medal day

Olympic and World champion Alex Bilodeau was on top of the podium here today at an FIS mogul World Cup, capping off a three-medal day for Canada’s impressive mogul team, which took 11 out of a possible 24 finals spots in today’s men’s and women’s events. Jenn Heil and Mikaël Kingsbury also earned medals on the challenging course.

Montreal’s Bilodeau followed his first place qualification run with a fast and smooth final run to give him the gold with a score of 26.17. France’s Guilbaut Colas was second with the fastest run of the day and a score of 25.80. He retains his lead in the World Cup standings. Kingsbury (Deux-Montagnes, Que.) had some uncharacteristic difficulty on his top jump and landed in third 25.36.

“The moguls here are a bit bigger than we’ve seen all season, and they’re firm – like we ski in Quebec – I think that gave me an edge because I could really showcase my absorption technique,” said Bilodeau, who is sitting third to Colas and Kingsbury in the overall standings.

Kingsbury liked the course too, but he was disappointed that a small mistake in the landing of his top jump threw him a little off-balance. “I wish I had done it clean like I did in training,” he said.

Kingsbury and Bilodeau have shared five podiums so far this season and both say they are working well together. “[Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau] and Jenn [Heil] were there for me when I was starting my career,” said Bilodeau, “I think it’s important to have a mentor like that, and I’m trying to be there for [Kingsbury] and some of the other young guys on the team like Cédric [Rochon]. I’m trying to give as much as I can to them.”

“I like learning from Alex and we’re definitely pushing each other,” said Kingsbury.

Canada took half of the men’s 12 finalist positions today. Eddie Hicks (Langley, B.C.) was fifth at 24.70; Rousseau (Drummondville, Que.) was sixth at 24.48; Rochon (St. Sauveur, Que.) was 10th at 21.39; and, Marc-Antoine Gagnon (Terrebonne, Que.) was 11th at 20.48. Quebec City’s Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh did not make finals, and finished 36th at 16.69.

In women’s action, American Hannah Kearney scored 26.33 to best Spruce Grove, Alberta’s Heil, who took the silver at 25.61. Heather McPhie of the US was third at 25.08.

Heil, who now lives in Montreal and has recently announced she will retire at the end of the season, said, “I came out here to push it for my last three World Cups and that’s what I did today. I think I performed just shy of a great run. I could have been more dynamic on my turns, but I had my best 360 of the season.”

Heil appreciated the tough course, “The organizers are amazing and they really know how to build a mogul site. I think in general we haven’t seen enough true mogul courses this season, they’ve been more like tracks, the course here is what the standard should be and it’s nice to get back to this kind of skiing. I also think it really shows Canada’s talent that we can continue to achieve excellent results on a variety of courses.”

Heil’s teammates also had strong showings, with Kristi Richards (Summerland, B.C.) finishing fourth at 24.36; Audrey Robichaud (Quebec City, Que.) fifth at 24.33; Chloé Dufour-Lapointe sixth at 24.18; and Justine Dufour-Lapointe 11th at 22.57. Chelsea Henitiuk of Spruce Grove, Alta did not make finals and finished 15th at 20.28.