Jennifer Heil, freestyle mogul skier, community activist (born 11 April 1983 in Edmonton, AB). Mogul skier Jennifer Heil, nicknamed "Little Pepper," was the first Canadian female freestyle mogul skier to win a medal in Olympic competition. Heil won gold at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games and silver at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia (the first Canadian medals of the Games in both years). She has won four world championship titles and ten national championships, five World Cup championships in moguls, and was overall champion in women’s freestyle at the 2007 World Cup. Over the course of her career, she has amassed 58 World Cup medals, including 25 gold. In 2015, she was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Heil began skiing at age two. Later, she was inspired to pursue elite freestyle skiing after her mother gave her a magazine containing images from the 1992 Olympic Winter Games. She began competing in moguls at age 16, winning two national titles at Mont Gabriel, Québec, in 2000. In the following season she won three World Cup medals, her first at Inawashiro, Japan.
Though 18-year-old Heil was the youngest Canadian skier at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, she placed fourth in the mogul competition, missing the bronze medal by 1/100th of a point in her first Olympics. Plagued by injury shortly after, she chose not to compete in the 2002–3 season and instead decided to pursue studies at McGill University. She returned a year later and won the World Cup in both 2003–4 and 2004–5, becoming the first Canadian woman to win back-to-back titles.
Olympic Medals and World Titles
In preparation for the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Heil underwent a vigorous and innovative training program that combined conditioning, mental toughness, and nutrition, and was overseen by a number of professionals including sports psychologists, therapists, and nutritionists. On the day of the race, Heil was the last skier down the hill, executing a 360-degree spin and a back flip, resulting in a score of 26.50. She placed ahead of Kari Traa of Norway, the 2002 Olympic champion, by 0.85 points.
Heil won four World Cup mogul titles (2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007), one World Cup overall championship (2007), and two World Championship titles (2005 and 2007) leading into the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Though she took much of 2008 off to deal with injuries, she had a successful season in 2009, winning silver in the single moguls at the world championships.
At the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Heil repeated her stellar performance but was edged out slightly by American skier Hannah Kearney, who won gold with her score of 26.63 points. Heil won the silver medal with 25.69 points. Shortly after the Olympics, Heil won her fifth title in moguls on the World Cup circuit. In 2011, Heil won her third world championship title in dual moguls, as well as her first world championship title in single moguls. She retired from competitive skiing the same year, and resumed her business studies at McGill University in Montréal.
Advocacy and Mentorship
Jennifer Heil supports a number of organizations, including Because I am a Girl and the Kids Kottage Foundation (Edmonton). Since 2006, she has run the Jenn Heil Girls Camp, a mogul ski camp for girls. The same year, she also co-founded B2ten, a privately funded charitable organization which provides training and support to amateur athletes.