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Canadian takes boardercross

Nate Peterson
The Aspen Times

As the story of Winter X Games 10 went from bad to worse for Snowmass Village’s Jordan Karlinski, it turned to gold for Canada’s Maelle Ricker.

Karlinski ended up finishing 12th Saturday, last among the riders to make it into the semifinals. Ricker, Meanwhile, overcame a long history of injuries to win the women’s boardercross for the second time.

Seven years ago, when the Canadian national team rider won her first Winter X Games gold medal in boardercross, she was a fearless 20-year-old who appeared to be on the fasttrack to stardom.

But after eight knee surgeries in seven years and a missed shot at an Olympic medal in halfpipe in 2002, Ricker found herself struggling during practice runs Friday just to make it from the top of the course to the bottom.

The only time she managed to do so was for her qualifying run, when she had the second-fastest time.

“I was having some problems,” Ricker said, before adding that she considered withdrawing from the women’s boardercross field to save herself for the Winter Olympics in two weeks.

On Saturday morning, however, Ricker pushed aside her fear of injury and road with newfound confidence. After earning the top spot into the finals, Ricker secured the hole shot at the start, then held off Joanie Anderson of South Lake Tahoe, Calif. to pick up the win.

“It feels really good,” said Ricker, who will compete in both boardercross and halfpipe at the upcoming Winter Olympics. “I came out this morning and had a much better warm-up and was able to make it from the top to the bottom in training, which was an added bonus. Then I managed to get rid of all my mistakes by the final run.”

Claudia Hauesermann of Switzerland was third; Sandra Frei, also of Switzerland, Marni Yamada of Seattle and Erin Simmons rounded out the top six.

Karlinski, who was eighth after Friday’s qualifying, was fifth in her semifinal heat, then finished last in the consolation final.

“It definitely was not my best run,” Karlinski said after the semifinal. “I had chances to pass and I didn’t. … I kind of hesistated, because I almost collided and almost fell, and I defintely didn’t want to do that.

The absence of three-time defending champion Lindsey Jacobellis gave the rest of the field confidence, Anderson said. Jacobellis withdrew before her qualifying run Friday after tweaking her knee in practice.

“Lindsey’s really tough competition,” Anderson said. “It was a big opportunity. The course was really fun, and I just tried to stay smooth and point it and not speed check at all.”

Nate Peterson’s e-mail is npeterson@aspentimes.com.


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