Ricker left behind in quarterfinal heat 

Defending Olympic champ falls while trying to catch up; Maltais takes silver

click to enlarge PHOTO COURTESY OF CANADIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE - Maëlle Ricker, the 2010 Olympic women's snowboard cross champ, rides off course after falling in her quarter-final heat.
  • Photo courtesy of Canadian Olympic Committee
  • Maëlle Ricker, the 2010 Olympic women's snowboard cross champ, rides off course after falling in her quarter-final heat.

Maëlle Ricker's gold-medal defence came crashing to an end in the women's snowboard cross quarter-finals on the weekend, while one of her closest rivals and teammates went on to collect her second Olympic medal.

Ricker caught an edge while trying to take an inside line on the Rosa Khutor course during her Feb. 16 heat and did not finish, watching from the sidelines as Quebec's Dominique Maltais rode to a silver behind Czech rider Eva Samkova.

The 35-year-old Sea to Sky native, who won Olympic gold in 2010 and the world championship title in 2013, officially finished 21st in Sochi just weeks after a compound fracture of her wrist.

"I'm a little bit in shock," Ricker told media following her elimination. "It's something that's going to replay in my head for years to come. I'm not going to be able to shake this one off very easily."

Ricker, who was competing in her fourth Olympics, qualified fourth in the timed seeding runs and needed to be among the top three riders in her six-woman heat to advance to the semis. Sitting fourth, she tried to cut the corner on a passing attempt but couldn't stay on her feet and was left behind.

Though Ricker said prior to the Games that she did not expect the splint on her wrist to affect her much in the start gate, she said it did impact her ability to pull out on Sunday.

"For sure I don't have my usual pull out of the gate," she said. "It just kind of all fell apart there in the quarter-final. My start wasn't anything to write home about and it just got worse and worse as I went down the course. Usually I'm able to refocus and get back on point, especially in pressure situations.

"I can usually pull up my socks and dig deep but that really was not the case today."

Maltais, who won bronze in 2006 but fell on both of her qualifying runs at the 2010 Games, captured Canada's lone snowboard cross medal in Sochi. Kevin Hill had the top Canadian finish in the men's event, coming second in the small final to place eighth overall. Chris Robanske crashed out in the quarterfinals, while Jake Holden and Squamish's Rob Fagan were eliminated in the first round of race heats.

PARALLEL TEAM PUNTED

The Canadian alpine snowboard team didn't get a chance to race for a medal on Wednesday when parallel giant slalom competition was held at Rosa Khutor.

Caroline Calvé, Ariane Lavigne and Marianne Leeson all qualified and won their opening rounds, but all three were eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Five-time Olympian and defending gold medallist Jasey-Jay Anderson qualified in the men's top 16, as did fellow Canadian Matthew Morison, but both got knocked out in the eighth-finals. The squad will get another chance to race on Saturday, Feb. 22 when men's and women's parallel slalom takes place.

BIATHLETES MAKE TOP 10

After his fifth-place finish to start the Games, Jean-Philippe Le Guellec got back into the top 10 alongside Canadian teammate Brendan Green during Tuesday's 15 km mass start, with Green finishing ninth and Le Guellec placing 10th. Green also had the team's best finish in the 20 km individual race, placing 21st, while Canadian Nathan Smith was 25th. In women's races, Manitoba's Megan Imrie had a tough day at the range in the 12.5 km mass start and finished 29th. Imrie also led the way for the Canadian women in the 15 km individual race, taking 30th spot. Former Sea to Sky resident Megan Heinicke was 51st in that event.

In cross-country competition, Daria Gaiazova and Brittany Webster both landed in the top 50 of the women's 10 km classic race, with Webster's 42nd-place result being Canada's best. The Canadian women's relay team ended up 14th in its Saturday race.

Devon Kershaw was the men's team's fastest skier in the 15 km classic event on Friday, finishing 35th. Ivan Babikov placed 39th, and Alex Harvey did not finish. The Canadian men placed 12th in their relay race.

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