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Ricker finishes season on top



By Andrew Mitchell

The Right Guard Xtreme Snowboardcross series finale took place at Cypress Mountain this past weekend, wrapping up the national series while utilizing the same venue that riders will race in the 2010 Winter Games.

Whistler’s Maëlle Ricker — who came within a few points of taking the overall World Cup crown on the condensed tour this past winter then dominated at the nationals at Lake Louise — won the final round on Sunday, after losing to Christelle Doyon the day before.

On the first day of racing, Doyon took the gold medal, Ricker was second, Marni Yamada of the U.S. placed third, and Doris Guenther of Austria placed fourth. Lynn Ott of the U.S. won the small final, followed by Sarah Hunter, Jusine Cote and Michelle Brodeur.

The next day Ricker stepped up her game to place first, followed by Guenther and Yamada. Doyon, solid again, placed fourth. In the small final, Michelle Broduer placed fifth, Jess McDonald was sixth, Myrica Hinich was seventh and Stephanie Hickey, riding for Australia, was eighth.

On the men’s side, Cranbrook’s Rob Fagan placed first in a heat that included national champion Tom Velisek, overall World Cup champion Drew Neilson, and rising star Simon Bonenfant. Mike Robertson and Jake Holden were fifth and sixth, Bobby Minghini of the U.S. placed seventh, and Carl Cowtan was third.

On day two, Vernon’s Velisek took the gold over Drew Neilson. Jonathan Cheever of the U.S. scooped up the bronze, while Francois Boivin of the national team rounded out the final heat. The small final put Mike Robertson in fifth, Bobby Minghini in sixth, Jake Holden in seventh and Whistler’s Derek Wintermans in eighth.

Close to 60 men and 40 women took part each day, a strong turnout for the final stop of the Telus Canadian Open Snowboard Tour.

A handful of events remain for members of the national team. Halfpipe riders will be in Whistler next week for the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, competing in superpipe and big air contests as well as the second annual Stompede mini-slopestyle.

Some of the racers are at Northstar at Tahoe this week for the U.S.A. Snowboard Association National Championships.