Blenz boosts Maelle Ricker's Olympic hopes 

A local Olympic hopeful is getting a boost from one of her favourite coffee companies as she chases her 2010 dream.

Maelle Ricker, a Squamish-based snowboarder who hopes to compete at the 2010 Olympics, has entered a partnership with Blenz Coffee to support her as she trains through the 2009-2010 winter season.

A two-time Olympic athlete in Snowboard Cross and Halfpipe, Ricker will now grace a special blend called Limited Edition West Coast Winter Roast that will be available through to the end of February 2010.

"Every time our customers buy the West Coast Winter Roast, they'll be enjoying great coffee in support of a great Canadian athlete," Brian Noble, director and co-founder of Blenz Coffee, said in a statement.

Blenz and Ricker came together after George Moen, President and the other co-founder of the company, met her through a business connection.

"We knew that she was training on the North Shore," he said in an interview. "We've been looking for quite some time in terms of getting involved in sponsorship.

"The key was that she was local because she lived in B.C. and we're a B.C. company, and then we found out she was also a customer of ours. It was a real basic connection like that."

Moen was impressed at Ricker's athletic talent and wanted to sponsor her after discovering they shared a lot of the same values, according to him.

"She's a very unassuming lady," he said. "She's got a great personality, very humble, very focused, we just thought she'd be a great fit for us.

"She's just a really nice person that has got an incredible talent and so that was the unexpected pleasure."

Blenz is doing a number of things to support Ricker leading up to February 2010. Moen said the company is giving her a financial contribution on a regular basis so that she can focus on training.

The company is also supporting her through brand awareness, naming the aforementioned roast after her as well as donating money off of each bag to serve as part of her sponsorship money. Blenz has also been running online and in-store promotions for some time.

"It's really like a co-branding partnership," Moen said. "As a good partnership program should be, we've got a good brand in the marketplace, she's got a good winter sport brand. We thought it was a good fit."

Ricker's favourite drink at Blenz is its Americano blend, and that drink happens to be getting a big promotion in January, making perfect timing for a marketing opportunity, according to Moen.

On top of all these things there will also be a "Maelle cup line," literally embossing the Maelle Ricker brand on takeout cups.

"Every time a customer goes to Blenz they will read about Maelle," he said.

Blenz also hopes to give the Olympic hopeful a presence in cyberspace. The company has launched a website at www.gxcnn.com where it has drawn a map of Canada in coffee cups. Customers can go to the site, click on empty coffee cups and share their thoughts about Canada for Ricker to read along her Olympic journey.

The company has designed it as a way for followers to directly engage with an Olympic athlete as she chases a medal.

Ricker is seen as one of Canada's best hopes for a gold medal at the 2010 Olympics. At the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy she came fourth in Snowboard Cross. She was second overall in World Cup snowboard cross standings in the 2008-09 season. She also won a World Cup snowboard cross event at Telluride, Colorado just before Christmas.

 

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