Canada’s Jennifer Heil is expected to take home a medal from Vancouver as she defends her freestyle skiing title at the 2010 Olympics this February.
Women’s freestyle skiing has eight Canadian competitors and looks to provide plenty of opportunity to keep medals in the country.
If Heil takes gold she could be the first to ever do it in a Games on Canadian soil, as her competition takes place on the first day.
“I’m just trying to stay focused,” Heil told CTV. “The competition is so tough. Everyone is gunning for the same thing.”
Canada’s team is led by Heil, who was pre-selected last year to compete in the moguls competition. She won gold at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, and is at the top of the overall standings heading into the Games, with four World Cup wins.
Despite the pressure to defend her title, the 26-year-old is confident in her ability to win, and believes that her hard work will get her there.
“My goal is to show that proper training and preparation can make the difference,” Heil told alive.com.
Canada’s other freestyle skiers include Kristi Richards and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, competing with Heil in moguls, Veronika Bauer for aerials, and Ashleigh McIvor, Julia Murray, Kelsey Serwa and Danielle Poleschuk in the ski cross competition.
McIvor was also pre-selected last year for the Olympics, and is Canada’s top female ski cross athlete.
Other skiers to watch include Hannah Kearney and Shannon Bahrke of the United States, as well as Margarita Marbler of Austria, in the moguls competition.
In aerials, Li Nina of China and Lydia Lassila of Australia will be the ones to focus attention on.
And in the Olympic debut of ski cross, Karin Hutlary of Austria will be strong.
Freestyle skiing competitions will all take place at Cypress Mountain, also home to the snowboarding events at this year’s Olympic Games.
There has been some concern with this location because of the mild weather, with worries that the snow might be too soft, or even nonexistent.
Cypress is one of British Columbia’s most popular places to ski, but because it is located on the coast and is at a relatively low elevation, it has been closed in the past, due to snow problems.
Freestyle skiing was originally a combination of traditional alpine events and acrobatics, and consists of moguls, aerials and ski cross. Aerials include jumps that are combinations of back flips and twists with differing degrees of difficulty.
Aerials are judged on quality of takeoff, height gained, body position and form, and maintenance of balance when landing.
Moguls involves skiing over a number of large bumps, including two sets of air bumps, where skiers perform two jumps of their choice, as quickly as possible. It is judged on turns, jumps, body position and time.
The ski cross course involves a variety of turns, flat sections and traverses, and rolls, banks and ridges. Ski cross is judged on turns, body position and form.
The ladies’ moguls qualification round and medal event will both take place on Feb. 13. The qualifiers for ladies’ aerials will be held on Feb. 20, with the medal event on Feb. 24.
All of the ladies’ ski cross events will take place on Feb. 23.