It’s been nearly four years since Squamish resident Maëlle Ricker captured the snowboard cross gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in her home province. She’s hoping to add to her collection in Sochi in a few months.
Training in Austria for the first FIS World Cup snowboard cross race of the season, Ricker said the Games are just around the corner.
“Sochi is approaching very quickly,” she told The Chief in an email. “It’s crazy to think four years has gone by already since the 2010 Games.”
She said the course and conditions at Sochi should work in her favour.
“I love the snow and weather conditions there because it’s such a similar climate to our Coast Mountains,” she said of Sochi. “It will feel just like riding at Whistler, perfect for all the B.C. athletes who are going to the Games.”
But she admitted that the competition will be strong in Russia.
“I would love to have another shot at the podium in February but there are a lot of great riders to contend with,” she said. “My teammate Dominique Maltais is better than ever and [American] Lindsay Jacobellis will be back from knee injury. There are some young riders from France, Italy, and Czech Republic who are fast as well.
“The course is one of the longer ones on tour with big flat gliding sections between features. Small mistakes will cost a lot in the long run. It would be safe to compare it to the X-Games course.”
The offseason kept Ricker busy and the team even hit the snow in early August in Chile to test out new equipment.
“I spent most of my offseason in the gym,” she said. “We had a team training camp most of May and June doing a wide range of exercises, anything from weight training to biking to gymnastics to swimming to pilates. We got back on snow in early August to test boards and equipment down in Chile.
“We then came home for a few more weeks of strength and conditioning before returning to the Southern Hemisphere for a specific snowboard cross training camp in Argentina in September and October.”
Overall, she said she feels healthy and ready to compete in both the World Cup circuit and the Olympics.
“Everything is going well and I feel like I can push my technical riding every time we go on snow,” she said.
Ricker and the snowboard cross team will hit the competitive slopes for the first time this winter on Friday (Dec. 6) in Austria. They will then compete at Lake Louise on Dec. 20.
Check back to The Chief for more details on Ricker’s path to Sochi.