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

Maelle Ricker
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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.

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