Nicoll takes bronze on home turf 

Europeans lead World Cup haul

Whistler’s SnowScene World Cup weekend wrapped up on a high note this year, with a pair of homegrown athletes making it to the halfpipe finals and holding their own against the best in the world in the same superpipe where they learned their best tricks.

Mercedes Nicoll won Canada’s only medal of the weekend, but five Canadians managed to finish in the top-10 in the snowboard cross, parallel giant slalom and halfpipe competitions. For spectators, the events did not disappoint with some close races, a few crashes, and some impressive tricks.

Ricker seventh in O’Neill Snowboard Cross

It’s been a few years since Maelle Ricker of Whistler and Vancouver competed in World Cup snowboard cross.

Prior to 2001, Ricker was among the most dominant female riders in the sport, winning the X-Games and no fewer than four World Cup gold medals with her aggressive riding style. In 2000 she was named the Transworld Snowboarding female rider of the year.

After 1999 she didn’t get any full seasons in snowboard cross, as a string of knee ligament injuries kept her on the sidelines. Her last World Cup appearance in the sport was in 2001, when she was eighth in the World Snowboard Championships.

Following the last injury, Ricker focused more on her halfpipe riding, and has been one of the top-ranked Canadians on the World Cup circuit.

This year’s SnowScene Nokia Snowboard FIS World Cup marked Ricker’s return to snowboard cross, and things couldn’t have gone better for the 25-year old.

Although she has been out of competitions recently with another injury, Ricker was definitely not out of practice.

"I’m not used to riding this aggressively because of my injury, so I’m happy with today’s result," Ricker said of her seventh place finish.

Even though the World Cup competition has gotten stiffer recently – snowboard cross was named as an Olympic discipline last year – she held her own against girls on racing boards that haven’t missed a race in years.

"I was a little timid in the opening part of the course, but it was a good start to the week."

After being edged out in the semi-finals, Ricker was relegated to the small final where she finished third in the bracket, to place seventh overall.

Ricker was the lone Canadian to make it into the finals. Dominique Maltais, Erin Simmons, Lindsay Edwards, Cori Olafson, Candice Drouin and Desiree Labrecque came up short of the top-16 in the qualifiers.

Karine Ruby of France took the gold medal, followed by Jennifer Frino of Italy and Marie Laissus of France.

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