Then she took a big gulp.
"I think I got very excited and swept away in Vancouver," Heil said.
"Everything felt possible in Vancouver. So I said the million dollars and then I was terrified that I'd put that out there because I had no plan on how to go about it."
But Heil is a woman accustomed to risk as her sport requires her to ski as fast as she can over bumps and jumps.
She won Olympic gold in 2006 and silver four years later in Vancouver.
Heil has reached her campaign target and is actually closer to $1.1 million, she said.
Plan Canada's Because I am a Girl program operates on the premise that if a girl is nourished and has safe environment and an education, she can raise the standard of living for not only herself and her family, but her community as well.
The International Day of the Girl, initiated by the United Nations, is Friday.
Heil will be in Ottawa on Thursday to promote an interactive art installation supporting girls' education globally.
The 30-year-old from Spruce Grove, Alta., became an ambassador of the Because I am a Girl program after a 2008 trip to Burkina Faso.
Heil met with girls who were the first in their community to go to school. She heard their dreams of becoming doctors and lawyers and even president of the country.
"For me, when I was nine years old, I had the dream to be an Olympian," Heil said Wednesday from her home in Montreal. "As as a Canadian, I received endless opportunity to make that a reality.
"They told me they wanted to be citizens of tomorrow. It made me want to try and help create some opportunity for them and for other girls."
Heil's efforts have helped fund 3,000 school scholarships for girls in Burkina Faso, as well as schools, playgrounds and water facilities there and in other countries.
"We often feel we don't know where to start, there's so many challenges in this world," Heil said. "That's true, but in terms of girls' education, a little goes a long way."
Heil went into the 2010 Winter Games with enormous pressure on her shoulders as the defending Olympic champion.
She competed on the first day of the Games at Cypress Mountain and took silver.
On the day of the closing ceremony, Heil announced she would kick off her fundraising campaign with $25,000 of her own money.
"I knew if I won a medal that it would be an opportunity to have a larger impact and to make a bigger difference," Heil said.
"A million dollars had kind of been thrown out there, but I didn't commit to it until the words came out of my mouth."
Her first step was a nervous meeting with the CEO of her sponsor Birks to ask if the jewellery company would match her contribution.
"I knew if he said 'no' I was going to be in big trouble because I needed every single one of my sponsors to come on board to even have a chance," she said.
"He said of course he would help. Birks has actually raised over $200,000 for the challenge.
"It gave me a lot of confidence it was possible and momentum kind of built from that first ask. A lot of the money raised has been through the generosity of the business community in Canada."
Heil retired in 2011 as a four-time world champion.
She and partner Dominick Gauthier, who was also her coach, have a son Danik born earlier this year. Heil also completed her commerce degree at McGill this year.
Heil runs an annual girls-only moguls camp. She will be at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, as a television commentator for moguls.
After years of travelling the world to compete, she's happy be at home with Danik these days.
"I'm just trying to enjoy this time at home," Heil said. "I've never been at home. That's a new reality."