Maelle Ricker
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Maelle Ricker, first Canadian woman to win home gold, retires from snowboard cross

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Maelle Ricker, who in 2010 became the first Canadian woman to win Olympic gold on home soil, retired from snowboard cross at age 36, according to Canadian media.

Ricker underwent knee surgery in February and couldn’t come back, according to CBC.

“I’ve got a lot of mixed emotions – emotions that change by the minute,” Ricker said, according to the Canadian Press. “I really had the vision to keep going and keep racing. I’ve come back from injury many times before and this was going to be another routine stop.

“When I got back on snow … a switch flipped inside and I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to get back in the starting gate with the ability I need to race and to really commit 100 percent and be on the podium. I promised myself that if I couldn’t get back to that spot I wouldn’t keep going.”

Ricker won Canada’s second gold medal of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, two days after moguls skier Alexandre Bilodeau snapped the nation’s home-gold drought. Canada won zero golds at the Montreal 1976 and Calgary 1988 Olympics.

At Torino 2006, Ricker competed in snowboard cross’ Olympic debut, was fastest in qualifying but crashed in the final and had to be taken to a hospital. That final is most remembered for American Lindsey Jacobellis giving up gold by falling on a trick move near the finish. Swiss Tanja Frieden won.

Ricker crashed in the Sochi Olympic quarterfinals.

She also competed at the Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics, placing fifth in halfpipe’s Olympic debut as a 19-year-old.

Ricker is the only snowboarder to win titles at the Olympics, World Championships and Winter X Games. She did so during an era dominated by Jacobellis, who has won 13 gold medals in 18 snowboard cross appearances over those three competitions, but zero Olympic titles.

MORE SNOWBOARDING: Shaun White talks Torino 2006, Andre Agassi, more

Jennifer Valente takes silver in world cycling championship scratch race

Jennifer Valente
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Jennifer Valente won the first medal for the U.S. team in the world track cycling championships Wednesday in Berlin, finishing second behind Dutch cyclist Kirsten Wild in the scratch race.

Wild won the mass-start event for the third time, having taken gold in 2015 and 2018, and her seventh world championship in all track cycling disciplines. She also took silver in the 2016 world championship road race.

Valente also joined Chloé Dygert, Emma White and Lily Williams in women’s team pursuit qualifying, posting the fastest time of the day and easily qualifying for the semifinals on Thursday. The U.S. team has been in transition with the retirement of Sarah Hammer and the death of Kelly Catlin, who committed suicide in March. Hammer, Catlin, Dygert and Valente took silver in the 2016 Olympics.

READ: Dygert aims for road and track double in Tokyo

The Netherlands took two of the three gold medals on Wednesday’s program, beating Britain to win the men’s team sprint. Germany beat Australia to win the women’s team sprint.

READ: Track cycling broadcast and streaming schedule

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Tokyo organizers, IOC going ahead as planned with Olympics

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TOKYO (AP) — A spokesman for the Japanese government on Wednesday said the International Olympic Committee and local organizers are going as planned with the Tokyo Olympics.

The comments from spokesman Yoshihide Suga follow the assertion by IOC veteran Dick Pound that organizers face a three-month window to decide the fate of the Games.

READ: Pound cites time needed to ramp up operations

The Olympics are set to open on July 24 with 11,000 athletes. The Paralympics open Aug. 25 with 4,400.

Also Wednesday, Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto abruptly called a news conference to address Pound’s comments.

“Our basic thoughts are that we will go ahead with the Olympic and Paralympic Games as scheduled,” Muto said, speaking in Japanese. “For the time being, the situation of the coronavirus infection is, admittedly, difficult to predict, but we will take measures such that we’ll have a safe Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Muto added: ““That the end of May is the time limit, we have never thought of this or heard of such a comment. So when we asked about this, we received a response saying that is not the position of the IOC.”

Muto also allowed for the possibility of downsizing the Olympic torch relay but insisted it will not be canceled.

Pound told the Associated Press that the fast-spreading virus could cancel the Olympics. Suga says Pound’s opinion does not reflect the official view of the IOC, which has repeatedly said there are no plans to cancel or postpone the Tokyo Games.

“With regard to this member’s comment, the IOC has responded that this is not their official position, and that IOC is proceeding with preparations toward the games as scheduled,” Suga said, speaking in Japanese at his daily news conference.

Pound is a former IOC vice-president and a member since 1978, and was the founding president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

He also represented Canada as a swimmer at the Olympics.

In a telephone interview from Montreal, Pound said the IOC has a three-month window to decide, and suggested other options like moving events of postponing seemed less likely.

“In and around that time,” he said, “I’d say folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or now?”‘

If the IOC decides the games cannot go forward as scheduled in Tokyo, “you’re probably looking at a cancellation,” said Pound, who added that he was not commenting on behalf of the IOC.

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