Coming off a concussion, Olympic champion Maëlle Ricker came up just short of the podium when making her first World Cup snowboard cross start of the year at Lake Louise on Saturday, Dec. 21.
Ricker, who did not compete in the season opener at Montafon, Austria, after getting her bell rung in a training crash, reached the women's final at Saturday's World Cup stop in Alberta and finished fourth.
Ricker fell early in the final heat and wasn't able to catch the race's medallists, which included Canadian teammate Dominique Maltais, who took silver. U.S. rider Lindsey Jacobellis won the event and Norway's Helene Olafsen placed third.
Despite the fall, Ricker was pleased with her performance.
"A fourth place was a great result today," Ricker said in a release. "The whole team is very well prepared and the course conditions today were outstanding. Unfortunately I made an error in the big final when things got tight early in the race."
In other Canadian results, Zoe Bergermann finished 18th, Whistler's Carle Brenneman was 26th and Michelle Brodeur placed 28th.
In the men's event, Canadian rider Christopher Robanske was the top qualifier but was eliminated in the quarter-finals, finishing 13th. Squamish's Rob Fagan was right behind him in 14th spot. The World Cup snowboard cross tour will now take a break before making a rare stop in Andorra between Jan. 10 and 12.
DOREY FOURTH AT GRAND PRIX
Whistler's Justin Dorey settled for fourth spot in the U.S. Grand Prix World Cup ski halfpipe event at Colorado's Copper Mountain, continuing to show some consistent skiing in early-season competitions.
Dorey earned a score of 86.20 from judges to finish just a few points back of the podium. Top qualifier Gus Kenworthy finished third at 90.00. Aaron Blunck of the U.S.A. won the contest and France's Kevin Rolland was the runner-up.
B.C. skiers Mike Riddle and Matt Margetts also made the men's final and placed seventh and 10th, respectively. Whistler's Simon d'Artois did not advance from the qualifer and finished 28th.
Megan Gunning was the only Canadian in the women's final, finishing 12th. Rosalind Groenewoud did not compete, as she underwent arthroscopic surgery on both of her knees on Dec. 17. She is expected to recover in time for the Olympics.
Groenewoud qualified for Sochi the previous weekend with a 10th-place finish in Dew Tour competition but injured her left knee. She also elected to take care of some nagging issues in the other knee.
"It wasn't my plan to have surgery this close to the Olympics," Groenewoud said in a release, "but I can't wait to have two fully functional knees and ski without pain."
In other skiing action from Copper Mountain, Canada's Dara Howell won the women's ski slopestyle event on Saturday. Pemberton's Yuki Tsubota finished 17th.
NO CANADIANS IN SNOWBOARD FINAL
Whistler's Mercedes Nicoll had the top Canadian result in the World Cup snowboard halfpipe event at Copper last week, but it wasn't one the two-time Olympian will be all that thrilled with.
The 30-year-old was unable to advance out of the qualifying round, and her score of 50.25 put her in 24th position.
The last time Nicoll finished 24th or lower in a World Cup halfpipe event was 2004. However, the stop at Copper Mountain wasn't kind to her last year either, as she placed 23rd at the same contest in 2012.
Canadian riders Katie Tsuyuki (32nd), Calynn Irwin (33rd) and Alexandra Duckworth (35th) also struggled at the event and did not move on from the qualifiers. The team has one World Cup event remaining in January, taking place at Stoneham, Que., before the Olympic team is named.