x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Ricker lifts gloom

Maelle Ricker gave the Canadians a welcome distraction with a snowboarding gold medal at one of the Winter Olympic venues that has caused concern.

Maelle Ricker, the Canadian snowboarder, celebrates after crossing the finish line.
Maelle Ricker, the Canadian snowboarder, celebrates after crossing the finish line.

VANCOUVER // Maelle Ricker gave the Canadians a welcome distraction with a snowboarding gold medal on Tuesday at one of the Winter Olympic venues that has caused concern in Vancouver. "I'm so overwhelmed I can't believe it, the way my day started," Ricker said after her win in the snowboardcross, Canada's second gold of the Games.

The start of qualifying was delayed because of rain and fog. And thousands of people who bought tickets for her event did not get to see Ricker, with organisers having to close a standing area at Cypress Mountain because it became too dangerous due to a lack of snow required to pack down a temporary platform. The organisers said they would have to refund a total of 28,000 tickets at the freestyle skiing venue, at a cost of US$1.44million (Dh5.28m).

But Ricker lifted the mood with her win, which was not entirely expected despite her lead in the World Cup standings. It helped that her main rival Lindsey Jacobellis, the American who cost herself a gold medal at Turin four years ago when she tried to show off near the end, was disqualified in the semi-finals. Too much snow at Whistler overnight continued to play havoc with the Alpine schedule, with the men's super-combined postponed and the women's downhill training cancelled.

The Canadian men's curlers held off a Norwegian team 7-6, with Kevin Martin, the captain, sealing the win with the last stone in the extra end. Martin again starred in an easy second win for Canada, with a three-point shot in the 9-4 defeat of Germany. The wet and warm weather that is causing trouble on the mountains was not a problem in the biathlon, which produced the first multi-medallists of the Games.

Germany's Magdalena Neuner won the women's 10km pursuit, holding off Slovakia's Anastazia Kuzmina - the pair exchanging podium places in the first two women's races. Kuzmina had beaten Neuner for gold in the 7.5K sprint on Saturday. Bjorn Ferry won the men's 12.5km pursuit, giving Sweden their first men's biathlon gold medal in 50 years. "I am 31 and I've waited for this my whole life," said Ferry, who was 16.5 seconds faster than silver medallist Christoph Sumann of Austria.

Vincent Jay of France, who started first after winning the 10K sprint in his Olympic debut on Sunday, took the bronze. But just like in the women's 10km race, the officials in the men's pursuit made errors on the starting line. While three women went off late in the first race, including, Anna Carin Olofsson-Zidek, the fourth-place finisher, two athletes went off too early in the men's race, including Jeremy Teela of the United States and Canada's Jean Philippe Leguellec, who was penalised 30 seconds for starting early and slipped from fifth to 11th place.

* AP