Join Date: Nov 2006
Jennifer Heil wins third straight World Cup freestyle skiing event
INAWASHIRO, Japan (CP) - Jennifer Heil of Spruce Grove, Alta., won her third straight World Cup freestyle event of the season Saturday, extending her lead atop the overall women's moguls standings, while Stephanie St. Pierre of Victoriaville, Que., took the bronze medal.
Heil, who has medals in five of six starts this season, prevailed on one of the circuit's steepest and most demanding courses with a score of 26.42.
"I always perform well here," said Heil. "It's definitely a skier's course and I love the challenge.
"I feel I found the groove. I've been able to take my competition to the next level. It's definitely great to find that. I was very aggressive - probably the most aggressive I've ever skied on this course."
Heil, 23, was among skiers who struggled in training Friday, especially for the landing of the opening jump, but the weather warmed up and the skiers faced softer and more manageable snow.
"Considering the difficulty of the course, it's the best run all-time," said Heil's coach, Dominick Gauthier.
American Michelle Roark was a distant second in 24.37 after performing a sensational double-helicopter for her second jump.
St. Pierre was third in 24.10 on a course where she twice seriously injured her left knee. Her previous best on this course was fourth, but the course has haunted her.
"Twice I've come back from emergency injuries (on this course), so it was good to get my revenge," said St. Pierre, 21. "This is really good, to face my fear and ski well and get a medal."
Sylvia Kerfoot of Vancouver was 11th and Audrey Robichaud of Quebec 13th in the final.
Heil's win gives her 484 points in the overall standings after six of the season's 11 events. Shannon Bahrke of the United States, who is second at 337, finished 14th Saturday.
Kristi Richards of Summerland, B.C., is fourth in the overall standings after placing 17th and just missing the 16-skier final. Marie-Josee Lessard of Louiseville, Que., was 19th.
Maxime Gingras of St-Hippolyte, Que., was fifth in the men's mogls final to improve on a career best of seventh in La Plagne earlier this season.
"I just had a few key words in my head, 'Go easy, and it's going to pay you,"' Gingras said after scoring 24.33, just behind 24.48 for fourth-place Dale-Begg Smith of Australia. "My run went without mistakes and it's the best result of my career, so I hope it's not the last run like this."
Canadian-born Dale Begg-Smith, representing Australia, continues to lead the men's overall standings after placing fourth, while Alex Bilodeau of Rosemere, Que., is fourth overall after placing ninth in the final.
Bilodeau is considered one of the moguls circuits top jumpers, but Saturday was 11th in his air scores. He was having a sensational run, but after his second air his ski caught in the softer snow. The other Canadian finalist, Pierre-Alexandre Rousseau of Drummondville, Que., was 16th.
The men's win went to American Nathan Roberts with a score of 25.78. Jay Bowman-Kirigan, who has excelled on the Noram circuit for several seasons, was second in 25.75, as Yugo Tsuikita of Japan took third in 25.14.
The meet resumes with dual moguls Sunday.