A pair of podium finishes was a little more like it for Maelle Ricker.
Coming off a 13th-place finish in the World Cup season opener, Ricker captured a silver in the women’s snowboard cross race held Friday (Dec. 14) at Telluride, Colo., part of a one-two finish with Canadian teammate Dominique Maltais.
For Ricker, it was the 39th time in her career she’s been on a World Cup podium. She and Maltais then paired up to win the team event on Saturday (Dec. 15) as well.
With a whole month until her next race, the world championships in Quebec at the end of January, Ricker said in an email that it was “very important” for her to rebound from the previous week. Racing at Montafon, Austria, to start the season, Ricker was eliminated in the quarter-finals for the first time in several years.
“I wasn’t ready to race in Austria, but I didn’t even really do anything about it because in the past few years I’ve always managed to get myself in race mode once I’m in the start gate,” she said. “It was an eye-opener for me not to be able to turn it up when I needed.”
The 34-year-old said she used her down time in Telluride focused on preparing for the race — analyzing video, working with trainers and physiotherapists — to ensure she returned to form.
The work paid off. Ricker qualified in fourth position on the first run, then won her quarter-final heat to advance. Maltais and Ricker were first and second, respectively, in the first of two semifinals, and finished up that way in the final as well. Bulgaria’s Alexandra Jekova took bronze. Whistler rider Carle Brenneman was in a quarter-final heat with Maltais but could not advance, finishing 16th. Canada’s Chris Robanske grabbed a bronze in the men’s event.
Ricker said she and Maltais were thrilled to finally break through and win a team race. Amazingly, it was the first time they’d managed a victory in the event.
“The team event has been a thorn in our sides since its debut at Lake Placid seven years ago. Dom and I never won it and we have somewhat been considered the favourites since it started,” said Ricker, noting that team events are exhibition races only. “This year, we made a point to do it properly and change the statistic of our ‘losing’ streak.”
Snowboard cross takes place Jan. 24 to 26 during the FIS World Snowboard Championships, which will be hosted at Stoneham Mountain Resort.