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First Canadian podium found at Cypress

The powder burst over and over as skiers bounced down Cypress Mountain and after the misty scene cleared, Canada had won its first medal of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Moguls star Jenn Heil delighted the fans by capturing the silver medal. She was in gold medal position with only one skier left to compete. Then, U.S. skier Hannah Kearney unleashed the race of her life and overtook the reining Olympic champion to steal the gold. Kearney was 2008-09 World Cup
moguls champion.

“I felt like I was standing on the shoulders of Canadians,” Heil said. “I felt like I had their wings on my back. This is Canada’s medal.”

Heil’s run had outshone all other skiers, performed with characteristic smoothness and perfectly executed jumps. Heil calmly bounced through the tricky moguls in the middle of the course, staying on top of her skis, in complete control.

It’s only fitting for the 2006 Olympic champion, who is just a fraction away from being a triple Olympic medallist (as she finished 4th in moguls in Salt Lake City 2002). She also, as has been much publicized, was a fraction away from being the first Canadian to win gold on home soil.

For that, it is only a matter of time.

The silver medal joins Heil’s sparkling resume, which includes 2005 and 2007 world titles, two more World Championship silver medals and four overall World Cup moguls titles. She is well on her way to a fifth in the latter, as she has won four gold medals this season already. The 10-time Canadian champion has captured 47 World Cup medals.

She wasn’t the sole Canadian providing nighttime thrills at Cypress Mountain. Chloé Dafour-Lapointe had an excellent run earlier in the event. The 19-year-old landed a huge initial back flip with full twist before skillfully navigating the course and nailing her second jump. She was still in bronze medal position with only two skiers left. The young moguls skier with big acrobatic ability who seems comfortable
floating in the air ended up fifth. The future for Dufour-Lapointe is bright to say the least.

Veteran Kristi Richards had the goods for a medal, but a crash midway through the course put her out of contention. She was going hard for it, leaving it all on the hill, but she couldn’t quite hold her high speed. Had she rebalanced, there could have been two Canadian medallists.

Still, here’s to Jenn Heil, Canada’s 2010 medallist No. 1.