The LG Snowboard FIS World Cup week at Stoneham, Quebec got underway on Tuesday with the snowboardcross races, with Squamish’s Maëlle Ricker earning her first win since January 2011 when she was injured during a crash at the world championships.
Ricker was back on snow at the start of the competitive season and hasn't finished outside of the top five. She earned a bronze medal at X Games, and then followed up with a bronze medal at the World Cup at Blue Mountain. She returned to the west coast where she won her sixth consecutive Mountain Baker Legendary Banked Slalom race, then flew back east to rejoin the World Cup tour. Her win at Stoneham is her first at that level (not including NorAm races) since she won at the 2010 Olympics.
"It's good to be in first place again and I like the way I'm improving race after race," said Ricker. "I would have liked to have Dominique (Maltais) with me and Michelle (Brodeur) in the finals."
In the final race she was up against Nelly Moene Loccoz and Deborah Anthonioz of France, as well as Canadian newcomer Michelle Brodeur, who finished second, third and fourth respectively — a career-best for Brodeur. Dominique Maltais, ranked first overall this year, placed seventh.
Ricker's gold wasn't the only hardware earned by a Canadian rider in the last week. In Oslo, Norway, at the first non-FIS World Snowboarding Championship since 1999, North Vancouver's Spencer O'Brien placed first in the slopestyle by a long margin. She was the only female competitor to break the 80-point mark, finishing with an 84.4.
Sebastien Toutant had to settle for second in the men's event. He had a 10-point lead on the competition until Chas Guldemond of the U.S. bumped him from the top spot with only a few riders remaining. Mark McMorris was ninth.