Maelle Ricker was the fastest qualifier in the Olympic Snowboardcross event last February. She won all of her heats but went down in the women’s final, like everyone else. The last time we saw her, she was leaving the Olympic venue in an ambulance.
We caught up with her on a recent trip to Chile, and asked her what she’s been up to since that February day in Torino.
1. What happened during your finals run at the Olympics? How did you go down?
I still have problems remembering what happened in that run. I remember pulling out of the gate and having too much speed for the little jump right before the first corner. I landed flat and lost all my speed and momentum. Lindsay and Tanya passed me, so by that point I just tried to stay behind them and find a good place to pass. They both went mid to low on the third corner and I went high to flat base the berm to try to generate speed for the double after the corner. From that point on I don’t know what happened. I’m still missing my memory from then to when I woke up in the helicopter. I watched the run on TV later that week. It seemed like I hooked my heel edge on the take off of the double and flew backwards onto my head/back.
2. All I saw was the ambulance that took you away. What went down after you left the contest site?
I was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Torino. The hospital staff there did a series tests to see if I had damaged my spine and also checked for serious head injuries. I couldn’t have asked for better treatment.
3. What were your injuries?
I didn’t do any serious damage. I gave myself a nice concussion and tore a bunch a muscles in my back and neck. I was quite “foggy and as stiff as a board for about a month.
4. Are you totally recovered?
5. When did you find out about the outcome of the race?
That run ended up getting pretty crazy. When I was concussed I kept asking what I was doing that day. I guess everyone kept telling me I was forth in the Olympics, but I just kept asking. Also, when I was in my state of confusion, I heard my teammate Dominique fell down. I guess I was worried that my fall took her out too. I came to back to reality during the helicopter ride to Torino. I remember being so bummed about being that close to an Olympic medal. I also heard about Dominique falling through the fence and Lindsay going down by the finish. Hopefully everyone watching was entertained.
6. How much riding did you do this summer?
I have been on my board quite a bit. In June I was coaching at Glacier Snowboard Camp on Blackcomb Mountain. I got to ride at a training center in southeastern B.C. for a couple weeks in July with my Canadian snowboardcross team. That was an amazing experience. We were up in the middle of nowhere at Farnham Glacier, staying in fancy tents and doing snowboardcross training. It was so beautiful and the weather was great. I also got to ride in August in Chile for a few weeks. Yep … lots of riding this summer.
7. Where’s your favorite place to ride during the summer?
I love South America. Both Chile and Argentina have great terrain. I have now gone down five years in a row. I can’t wait to come back again next year.
8. What’s next for SBX? Any word on a tour?
I hope it keeps gaining in popularity. A good SBX course is so fun to ride and equally as exciting to watch. I remember a U.S. Open course that had huge gap jumps and nice wide sections for passing. The race was partly filmed by helicopter to capture amazing camera angles, so the TV viewer could really see what was going on. It would be great to have events like that or the Swatch tour come back along with world cups and X-Games. I heard Seth (Wescott) is doing a great job promoting SBX in the U.S.
9. What keeps you going after an injury?
I just want to keep snowboarding. I think about a quote Natasza Zurek used a long time ago in her Burton bio … “I will ride forever, evven if all my body parts are metal.
10. Where are you right now?
Termas de Chillan, Chile. It’s snowing now. Tomorrow is going to be a good day.