Heil finishes with 58th World Cup podium

The Canadian Freestyle Ski Team wrapped up its best-ever World Cup season with another four medal showing here in dual mogul action today. Jennifer Heil and Mikael Kingsbury took home silver medals while Alex Bilodeau and Justine Dufour-Lapointe were bronze.

In the final FIS World Cup of her career, Spruce Grove, Alberta’s Jenn Heil went against this year’s Crystal Globe winner, Hannah Kearney of the US, in the final dual of the day.

Heil lost control in the middle section of her final run and had to pull out before her second jump, ultimately losing to Kearney. But Heil has no regrets. She said, “I skied today like I have every run of my career. I laid my heart out on the course.”

Today’s silver was Heil’s 58th World Cup medal, in 94 career starts.

She mused, “I have nothing left to do on the hill and that’s a beautiful ending for me. 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.”

Heil, who now lives in Montreal, also couldn’t close without a huge measure of appreciation for everyone who has helped her achieve her goals, including her coach and boyfriend Dominick Gauthier, the CFSA, B2ten and her sponsors, all of whom, she said, have allowed her to turn her passion into a job.

In the women’s small final, it was Justine-Dufour Lapointe, the sensational 16-year-old from Montreal, Quebec, who prevailed over teammate Kristi Richards from Summerland, B.C. for the fourth World Cup medal of her career, a bronze. Dufour-Lapointe was also honored with the FIS Rookie of the Year award.

”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.”

Dufour-Lapointe added that she has learned a lot in her rookie year, especially from her losses. “I have learned to prepare, to concentrate and to focus and not to get distracted by the cameras and the media. I’ve also learned to keep having fun, I didn’t realize you can still have fun on the World Cup circuit.”

Heil was happy to pass the torch to Dufour-Lapointe, whom she said “has the competitive spirit, passion and ability to soar in her career. And, if she needs any advice or mentoring, I’ll be there for her.”

Quebec City’s Audrey Robichaud was fifth today. She has also had a break-out season and finishes the year third in the World Cup standings. Heil was second and Kearney took home the crystal globe as this year’s overall points leader in women’s moguls. Kearney and Heil were also first and second, respectively, in the overall standings for all FIS Freestyle disciplines.

Rounding out the Canadian women’s results in the finals were Chloe Dufour-Lapointe (Montreal, Que.) who lost in the first round to Russian Ekaterina Stolyarova and finished ninth; and Chelsea Henitiuk (Spruce Grove, Alta.) who lost her first dual of the day to teammate Robichaud and landed in 14th position.

Maxime Dufour-Lapointe (Montreal) narrowly missed a finals spot, and was 17th.

In men’s action, Kingsbury of Deux Montagnes, Que., got a little backseat and lost in the final round to World Cup 2010-11 overall points leader Guilbaut Colas of France. But it was Kingsbury’s dual with teammate Bilodeau that was the most exciting of the day.
It was the fourth time this season that Kingsbury and Bilodeau have gone head-to-head and the first time that Kingsbury managed to prevail over the Olympic Champion.

”Finally I got it,” exclaimed an ecstatic Kingsbury, “I pushed my limits and went really big on my bottom air and it worked.”

The silver was Kingsbury’s 10th medal of the season, including two at World Championships. He said, “My secret is my consistency and the fact that I always feel confident in the start gate. I now know what to do to be on the podium and I work super well with my coach Rob Kober, so the pieces are all coming together and I’m on the right road for 2014.”

For his part, Bilodeau said he knew that one of these days Kingsbury would beat him. “He’s one of the best in the world and he deserved it today. I gave it all I’ve got, but he beat me fair and square.” Bilodeau closed the season second in the overall standings; Kingsbury was third.

It was a happy ending for Bilodeau, who had a rough start to the year. He said after Christmas he realized that he had been putting too much pressure on himself to win, “So, I changed my mental game and just started to focus on enjoying skiing, and it worked. I ended the season mentally confident.”

As for the rest of the men’s field, Langley, B.C.’s Eddie Hicks earned his career-best World Cup showing today, finishing fourth today after losing to Bilodeau in the small final. Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau (Drummondville, Que.) was seventh, Marc-Antoine Gagnon (Terrebonne, Que.) closed the book on an outstanding rookie year with an eighth place finish; Cedric Rochon (Saint-Sauveur, Que.) had his sixth top-10 result of the season and landed in 10th today.

Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh (Quebec City, Que.) was 17th after narrowly missing a spot in the finals.

With one event left for the season, the FIS Halfpipe World Cup Finals later today from La Plagne France, Canada has clinched the Freestyle Nations Cup for the sixth year in a row.

Heil, Bilodeau, Kingsbury and Dufour-Lapointe will all be available for interviews in Montreal on March 23, 10:30 a.m. at the Mansfield Club (1230 Rue Mansfield) at a news conference in advance of next week’s Canada Post National Championships.