In a few months, Maëlle Ricker will compete in her fourth Olympic Games at Sochi as the defending champ, Women’s Snowboard-cross. At the Vancouver 2010 Games, she triumphed as the first Canadian woman to win Olympic gold at home.
The scrappy, almost gladiatorial sport of snowboard-cross – frequently cited as one of the roughest in the Winter Games – has not been easy on Ricker. In 2006 when snowboard-cross debuted at the Turin Olympics, Ricker advanced to the final but suffered a shocking crash which left her with torn muscles and a serious concussion.
Another injury four years earlier had kept her out of the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002 – and over the course of her career she’s had a total of eight surgeries on her knees – so Ricker’s victory in Whistler and her continuing competitiveness in a cutthroat field is an even more striking success.
In 2009-10 she won the Crystal Globe as the FIS World Cup snowboard champion. Last year, she won her first world title at the 2013 World Championships. Her secret? Well, it may not be the only one, but just after her Olympic Gold win she told The Canadian Press: “I usually put a bit of snow on the back of my neck when I’m standing in the start gate. It’s a bit of a routine that zaps the system before I drop into a SBX course.”