Photo courtesy of Canadian Olympic Committee
Maëlle Ricker speaks at the Olympic snowboard team announcement earlier this year. The 2010 snowboard cross gold medallist has since broken her wrist, but fully expects to be racing in Sochi on Feb. 16.
For a lot of Olympians, seeing their arm bone break through the skin just weeks from the Winter Games would be devastating. But then, there’s Maëlle Ricker.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, the Sea to Sky rider didn’t seem at all concerned by the fact she’ll be defending her Olympic gold in women’s snowboard cross with a broken wrist.
“It sounds crazy, but (the injury) has helped me,” said Ricker. “I’ve obviously been really excited about the Games… but this almost like someone doused a bunch of gasoline on the fire, so I’m pretty ready to go.”
The 35-year-old, who had surgery after suffering a compound fracture while training at Aspen in the days following the Winter X Games, said the pain has been decreasing since the injury. She’s leaving for Sochi on Saturday with the rest of the Canadian snowboard cross team and fully expects to be in the start gate when her event takes place Feb. 16.
Ricker will race while wearing a splint of some kind. That could cause her some problems pulling out of the start, but the early indications for Ricker are that it won’t bother her too much and won’t affect her grip.
“I think it’s going to be better than maybe what I think, just based on my progress in the gym the last few days,” she said. “Everything is so much better than what I would have ever imagined, post-op after breaking an arm, so I think it’s actually going to go quite well.
“I’m really positive about this, and know that… it’s going to keep getting better and better every day.”
Ricker said she hasn’t been on snow since the injury but has been working hard in the gym to prepare for what will be her fourth Olympics — her first being the Nagano Games in 1998 as a halfpipe competitor. She’s come back from some serious injuries in the past — albeit not on as short a timeline as this one — and the 2013 world champion figures her body can do it again.
“I’ve definitely had some broken bones over the years. I drank a lot of milk growing up and I seem to have quite stubborn bones, just like my personality,” she said with a laugh.
“I have every confidence that when I do get back on snow I will be fine.”