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Maelle Ricker

"Some of the best days riding are also contest days."

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Profile: Maëlle Ricker

Events: Halfpipe, Snowboardcross

Age at 2006 Olympics: 27

Years with National Team: 10

What’s your biggest trick?

It’s a 720 but I’m hoping it’s going to be a 900, a frontside 900 with a mellon grab for the Olympics.

How do you get ready for a competition?

I’m pretty anal about that. I like to be there way ahead of time, so I have lots of time to get settled in instead of rushing. If I’m sleepy I put some snow on the back of my neck to shock myself into the moment.

I also do a warm-up in the mornings, do a little time on the bike, do some active stretching, I guess they call it. When I get to the hill I like to do a few runs outside of the pipe or snowboard cross course, but once I’m on course I start really focusing.

Mentally, for the snowboard cross the night before I go through the course over and over again in my head so I know what lines I’m going to take. I can usually see the whole course in my head after the first training run, and I like to rehearse different lines depending on where I am in the pack and figure out where the good passing spots are.

Do you listen to music when riding, and what are you listening to?

I do listen, but nothing really specific. I’m listening to a lot of Bedouin Sound Clash right now, and if I need a pickup it’s something like Finley Quaye.

Do you remember your first snowboard?

My first board was a Kemper Kids 133. I was in Grade 9. My brother started about two years before I did, maybe three years. I spent the first 14 years trying to keep up with him. I always rode with guys. One of the reasons the top girls are so good is that they do follow the guys, and always have to push themselves to keep up.

What is your worst injury?

Probably everything about my knees, the injuries there have been rather extensive. The right knee is a bit of a trick knee. I’ve had ligaments replaced, reconstructed using my hamstring and patellar tendon. You can also get one from a cadaver, but I haven’t had that yet – I think Rob Fagan used a cadaver for his knee.

What do you like about halfpipe and snowboard cross?

I like how (halfpipe) is just a really fun session with all your friends. Some of the best days riding are also contest days. Everyone is really chilled out and having a good time. My own passion comes from those slushy, spring sessions with friends.

(In snowboard cross) I like a good course, one that all the features fit together really nicely. It’s really like a trip through the terrain park with banked turns. The adrenaline rush is also unbelievable, you can’t get the same feeling in the pipe or anywhere else. There’s something about starting with three other girls, when everybody is aiming for the same line, and then having to hold your edge the whole time.

Any advice for kids starting out?

I would encourage them to ride all parts of the mountain, and not focus on one area. The best snowboarders are all-around good riders.

Who were your role models growing up, and who do you look up to now?

For sure my brother was huge, and legends like Craig Kelly and Terje Hakkonsen and Jamie Lynn. These days I’m amazed by Natasza Zurek.

What motivates you these days?

I do think that snowboarding is not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle, and to pull myself away from the mountains is impossible. Nothing beats a powdery, winter day. You just hope there’s a bunch of them in a season and go from there.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I don’t really know. I’d like to still be involved in the sport in some way, shape or form. I’ll never stop snowboarding. I think I’d like to get some post-secondary education, and also to help get more kids involved in the sport. I love seeing high school kids out there pushing their limits.

Sponsors: Burton, Utopia, Whistler Blackcomb, Showcase Snowboards, Gauge, Canadian Snowboard Federation

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