Love of snowboarding motivates Maëlle Ricker - Metro US

Love of snowboarding motivates Maëlle Ricker

Snowboardcross athlete Maëlle Ricker is fast becoming a household name as she is touted as one of Canada’s top gold-medal contenders for the 2010 Olympics.

But her drive to be faster and stronger isn’t born of a perceived pressure to win a medal, but her simple love of being on the mountain.

“Winning isn’t the motivating factor,” she said.

“My love of snowboarding drives and motivates me.

“Sinking into a powder turn, airing out of the pipe, jumping cliffs in the backcountry and riding a race line that’s on the edge all the way down a snowboardcross course are the reasons I’m in the start gate.”

To win — and win at home on top of that — would simply be the cherry on the cake, she said.

Ricker, 31, was 19 when she competed in her first Olympics at the Nagano Games, and just missed a podium finish in snowboardcross in the 2006 Games in Turin.

In December, the native of Squamish, B.C., won her second consecutive women’s snowboardcross race this season, bringing her to 28 podium wins — including 13 gold medals — on the FIS World Cup Tour.

She said she’s spending the next month snowboarding as much as possible and pushing her level — as she knows all her competitors are.

“I am focused on the process of training and competing and doing what I need to do day by day to still have fun and feel like I’m progressing.”

Knowing that the country is behind her, she said, is an added bonus.

“I am very excited that I have such good support of Canadians. I still feel like the luckiest person whenever I strap my board to my feet,” she said.

“I hope people will watch snowboarding and want to go play in the mountains afterwards. Ultimately it’s all about getting active and getting outside.”

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