WHISTLER, B.C. -- Calgary's Taylor Henrich captured gold in women's normal hill ski jumping on Saturday at the Canadian national ski jumping/Nordic combined championships.
Henrich went 91.5 metres on her first jump and then had a solid 89.5-metre jump on her second go round.
Henrich has been steadily building her skills and is setting her sights on competing at the 2014 Sochi Games. She started this season with her first World Cup event in Lillehammer, Norway, finishing 23rd. She finished fifth individually at the Youth Olympic Winter Games and was part of the Canadian team that won bronze in the team event.
"I went in knowing I could do well and showed them what we could do," said the 17-year-old Henrich of the Youth Olympic Games results.
Nata DeLeeuw, also of Calgary, finished second with an 89.5-metre opening jump and an 89-metre second jump in a successful return to competition after a three-year hiatus.
"There was a good opportunity for me to come out," said the 21-year-old DeLeeuw. "I thought it would be fun to take some jumps again. It's been a while."
Henrich also added a victory in Saturday's women's Nordic combined event. The runner-up was Canadian development team member Alexandra Pretorius, also of Calgary, who finished third in the women's normal hill ski jumping competition.
Pretorius went 91.5 metres on her first jump, then 79.5 metres on her second.
DeLeeuw was a leading female ski jumper when she stopped competing.
She had had an 11th-place result at the 2009 world championships and a record of strong Continental Cup showings to her credit. She was also a role model for up-and-coming athletes such as Henrich.
DeLeeuw said the IOC's decision not to include women's ski jumping in the Olympics in 2010 was disappointing, but she turned away from the sport because she was "ready to do something else with my life."
DeLeeuw did jump at the Whistler Olympic Park in 2010 as a forerunner for the men's Olympic events. She has been studying Earth and Environmental Sciences at UBC--Okanagan and skiing in her time away from the sport.
Despite her return this weekend, DeLeeuw isn't making any commitments as to whether she will continue jumping and aims to be there when women's ski jumping makes its Olympic debut in 2014.
"At this point I'm just here to have fun this weekend," she said, adding that she's "really excited" about the inclusion of women's ski jumping at the Games.
The open men's normal and large hill event wins were both claimed by Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes, 20, a Toronto native and member of Calgary's Altius Nordic Ski Club and leading men's national team member this season.
Boyd-Clowes significantly outjumped second- and third-place finishers Martin Schmitt and Kevin Horlacher of Germany, reaching top distances of 142 metres on the large hill and 104.5 metres on the normal hill.
Schmitt is a decorated German jumper, a past World Cup winner and member of the German squad that captured silver in the 2010 Olympic team event.
Boyd-Clowes is coming off a season that saw him set a new Canadian record by soaring 194 metres at the ski flying world championships in Vikersund, Norway.
"He's really working hard on everything that he needs to work hard on to become one of the top ski jumpers in the world, and it's extremely difficult on that circuit," said Ski Jumping Canada chairman Brent Morrice.
Hot on the heels of the top three jumpers in the open men's category were national development team members Dusty Korek and Matthew Rowley, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the normal hill competition and fifth and sixth, respectively, in the large hill event.
In the open men's Nordic combined competition, Canadian Wesley Savill finished second to American Adam Loomis. In the J2 men's Nordic combined event, Canadians Rogan Reid and Matthew Soukup of the Altius Nordic Ski Club finished first and second, followed by fellow countryman Nicholas Madden of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
Rogan finished second to American Kevin Bickner of the Norge Ski Club in the J2 men's normal hill ski jumping event.
It was the first event to be hosted on the Whistler Olympic Park ski jumps since the 2010 Vancouver Games.