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Can silver ever eclipse gold in the sporting sphere? It can, if that silver comes under the most extraordinary circumstances on your home turf after facing the most daunting pressure imaginable, and includes a high five from the Prime Minister of the country. So says Canadian moguls maven Jennifer Heil, a gold medalist in 2006 and silver medalist in the Winter Olympics last February on Vancouver’s Cypress Mountain.


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“My silver medal means more to me in many ways than the gold I won at the Torino Olympics four years earlier because of the extra challenges to stay focused and to be at my best,” says Heil, who lives in Montreal and is already gearing up for the new World Cup season just around the corner. “I love the pressure and great opportunities do not come without a dose of extra-pressure.”

The pressure cooker of the Olympic Games is over and there are four long years to the next one in Sochi, Russia. But Heil is already prepping for her World Cup season working with coach Dominick Gauthier, and training alongside Alexandre Bilodeau, who won Canada’s first gold medal of the Olympic Games in men’s moguls.

The mantra for the upcoming season echoes the immortal words of Maverick (Tom Cruise) in the movie Top Gun, “I feel the need. The need for speed.”

“My goal is to continue to improve in all aspects of mogul skiing; to ski faster, jump higher, and have even better turn quality. I am working on some great things on the water ramp to make that happen with the jumps,” says Heil. “But honestly, I can’t wait to ski really fast this season and take my speed to the next level.”


American mogul skier Hannah Kearney logged the fastest time to the bottom at the Vancouver Olympics taking the gold from Heil in a near perfect run. Although a technical sport, obviously being the quickest trip from top to bottom counts, and Heil knows it, hitting the gym early and often getting her body ready for the rigors of the World Cup circuit and taking a shot at the world championship in 2011.

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“Our sport requires a lot of strength and control. It is in the off months that we build up, where we can only maintain that during a season with the extra stress of competitions and an intense travel schedule that will bring us around the globe twice, this year,” Heil says. “To get ready I spend a lot of time in the gym doing strength, cardio training which includes sprinting up the stairs until you have nothing left, Pilates, yoga, and plyometrics as well as working on the trampoline and water ramps; so I am certainly never bored.”

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Throw in a surfing trip to Indonesia, hitting the trails on her mountain bike when she gets a chance, attending McGill University for business studies and contributing to a bunch of charitable initiatives focusing on empowering women, supporting athletes and environmental advocacy and you’ve

10 / get out there / september + october 2010

Jennifer Heil Freestyle Mogul Skier

For more information on Jennifer Heil, and to learn about her many charitable initiatives head to her website at


got one motivated and extremely busy individual. But the ski hill is still home.

“I love the challenge of mogul skiing and the speed and how you can never ski the same run twice,” she explains. “But in the beginning I just really loved skiing and being outdoors. My dad actually taught me how to ski moguls before I knew there was a sport of mogul skiing.”

Growing up in Alberta, Heil’s parents would schlep their budding 12-year-old bumps fiend eight hours every weekend to compete with the provincial ski team. They must have seen something in the young skier. And they were right.

Heil finished just short of the podium in fourth place in her first Olympic games in 2002 when she was just 18 years old, followed by three consecutive World Cup titles from 2003-2006, and a gold medal in Turin. She is currently one of the most highly decorated mogul skiers in Canadian history with 48 World Cup medals, two world championship wins and a whopping 10 national championships. And, though she is tight lipped about extending her career to the next Olympic Games in 2014, she is far from done competing, especially with the continued evolution of her sport.

“It is so exciting to see how moguls has evolved over time especially to see how women’s mogul skiing has really gone to the next level and to see all of the women pushing it,” Heil says. “I definitely see mogul skiing continuing to get faster, which is hard to believe when you realize we are already going four moguls per second.”

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