"Dinosaur" Ricker hoping experience pays off

Mon Jan 13, 2014 11:58am EST
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - If it were not for the fact that she will be defending her Olympic snowboard cross title in Sochi, Canada's Maelle Ricker would probably be riding with the crowds at the Mount Baker Banked Slalom this February.

The mass participation event south of Vancouver features hundreds of boarders of all ages, styles and standards and it is where Ricker arguably feels most at home.

"The Olympics is the pinnacle, the X Games is great and there is the marquee of the World championships, but for me Mount Baker is up there," the 35-year-old told Reuters by telephone last month before heading off to a session in the gym.

It highlights the passion she still retains for the sport and why, as her fourth Olympics looms, she continues to race head to head with boarders half her age.

"I actually love the fact of competing with the younger girls," Ricker, who has not ruled out competing at the 2018 Olympics, said.

"The good thing now is that the sports science has come such a long way that us older ones are able to capitalize on our experience and there's no reason why we can't continue into our mid or late 30s.

"You could say I'm one of the dinosaurs of the group. But experience plays a lot in technical races. I have to be smart and use my experience to my advantage."

Ricker was elevated to the status of national heroine in Vancouver four years ago when she became the first Canadian woman to win an Olympic gold medal on home snow, four years after narrowly missing a medal in Turin.   Continued...

Canada's Maelle Ricker celebrates on the podium after the women's Snowboard-Cross finals at the FIS Snowboard World Championships in Stoneham, Quebec, January 26, 2013. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger