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Maltais golden once again, Ricker wins silver

Mark McMorris earns two gold medals on Dew Cup tour



Quebec's Dominique Maltais picked up her second gold medal in less than a week with another win at Telluride, Colorado.

"I'm going to have a really good Christmas with these two wins," said Maltais. "It's a good way to start the season and now I get to spend time with friends and family the next couple of weeks."

While it's an individual sport for the most part, athletes do work together from time to time. That's what happened in the semi-final when Ricker and Maltais played to each others' strengths to hold off the competition and ensure both of them would move on to the finals.

"We're pretty much on the same line, I kind of know where she's going to go and she knows where I'm going to go," said Maltais. "In the semifinal we had a little tactic. We were with the French girl who wanted to pass inside left so we made sure we were together, not giving her that space to pass so we finished first and second."

The performance of Olympic champion Maëlle Ricker was a relief for the team after Ricker posted her worst result in snowboardcross since 2007 in the Dec. 8 race in Austria with a 13th place finish.

It was snowing hard for the finals, and Maltais got off to a start that made it hard for Ricker to challenge for the top spot.

"In Austria I was out in the first round, the first time I've done that in five or six years," said Ricker. "So I was glad to turn it around this week; (I) pulled up my socks."

Also making the final to place third and fourth were Alexandra Jekova of Bulgaria and Simona Meiler of Switzerland.

Carle Brenneman was 16th for Canada, while Jade Critchlow placed 26th.

The Canadian men's team found the podium for the first time in a while with Chris Robanske breaking through to the finals to finish third overall.

For Robanske, the fresh snow falling during the race also cost him any chance he had of upgrading to silver or gold. While athletes usually want to win the hole shot and be first out of the gate, it wasn't the right tactic for that race.

"In the final it was snowing harder," he explained. "I was in the lead, making tracks for everyone to pass me. But everybody rode well today. It was a great day. Everyone is happy."

Seth Wescott of the U.S. was first in the men's race, followed by Alex Pullin of Australia. Stian Sivertzen of Norway also made the final to rank fourth.

Kevin Hill was 15th and Rob Fagan 19th.

The snowboardcross team has a month off until their next races, the Mazda Snowboard FIS World Championship at Stoneham Resort in Quebec from Jan. 15 to 26.

Snowboarders on top at Dew Cup

Meanwhile Canada's slopestyle athletes headed to Breckenridge, Colorado, for the first Dew Cup event of the season and had a three-medal weekend of their own.

In the women's slopestyle, Spencer O'Brien earned a silver medal behind Jamie Anderson of the U.S.

"I'm really excited about that, second place," said O'Brien, although she had won the event the two previous years. "I had a strong first run, did the same run as last year. On my second run I went for a harder run and unfortunately fell on a trick I was stretching out."

On the men's side the biggest story was Mark McMorris, 19, who finished the weekend with two gold medals after winning the big air and slopestyle event. He's had big results before but nothing on this scale.

"I would have to say it was definitely the triple cork," he said after his 1440, triple corked jump in the big air on Saturday. "A lot of people were trying hard tricks after I landed that, and there were a lot of guys fallling. That's the reason I won."

McMorris earned a score of 96.75 for that trick, well ahead of American Sage Kotsenburg's 86.75 and Norway's Staale Sandbech, who made the podium with a 69.25 in the superfinal.

Sebastien Toutant placed fourth in the big air for Canada, while Maxence Parrot placed eighth.

The next day, McMorris also dominated the slopestyle competition with a 95.00, followed by American Chas Guldemond with a 90.75 and Staale Sanbech with an 85.75. Toutant was fourth once again while Parrot dropped back to 11th.

In the halfpipe contest, American Shaun White placed first overall, followed by American Louie Vito and Taku Hiraoka of Japan. On the women's side, Kaithlyn Farrington and Maddy Schaffrick of the U.S. placed first and third, while Queralt Castellet of Spain won the bronze medal.

All told, Canadian snowboarders claimed six medals this past weekend.