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Ricker wins women's snowboard cross
12:10 AEST Wed Feb 17 2010

Maelle Ricker of Canada survived bad weather and challenging course conditions on Tuesday to win the Olympic women's snowboard cross and the host nation's second gold medal.

"It was really, really hard today to get a clean run all the way down the course, but I just held on and did my best," Ricker said.

"I was really just focusing on doing the run, going through all of the motions."

Ricker finished fourth in 2006 in Turin, but came into the Vancouver Games leading the World Cup standings. She easily defeated Deborah Anthonioz of France in the final, and Olivia Nobs of Switzerland won the bronze.

Australian Stephanie Hickey was 18th in qualifying, narrowly missing out on advancing to the head-to-head finals.

In the semi-final, Ricker and Lindsey Jacobellis of the United States were the favourites to advance.

Jacobellis was in Vancouver looking to redeem herself after giving away victory four years ago in Turin, but her return trip to the Olympics was even worse.

Early in her semi, Jacobellis lost her balance on a jump, wobbled and skittered to try to regain her balance, but clipped the outside of a gate. She was disqualified.

She raised her hands in disbelief, then clasped them over her helmet. The most dominant rider in the world for most of the last decade didn't even make the medal round, and eventually finished fifth.

Jacobellis is remembered for hot-dogging a jump in Turin, after which she fell and blew her huge lead, ending up with the silver medal. In those same games, Ricker, 31, lost her balance and went off the course and into the netting.

She had to be taken off the course on a stretcher with a concussion and still says she doesn't remember much from that day.

With Jacobellis out of the way, the final was a breeze for Ricker. After Helene Olafsen of Norway wiped out early in the race, Ricker took a huge lead on Anthonioz - much like Jacobellis in the 2006 final - and did nothing to mess it up.

Anthonioz said she raced without the burden of expectation: "I had no pressure today because nobody was waiting for me," she said. "I did what I had to do."

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Medal tally>Full medal tally
1st Canada 14 7 5 26
2nd Germany 10 13 7 30
3rd United States 9 15 13 37
4th Norway 9 8 6 23
13th Australia 2 1 0 3
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