Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Second place a warm-up for Olys, says Canuck boarder

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LAKE LOUISE, Alta. -- Whether the track is bumpy, smooth, icy or fluffy, Dominique Maltais is a contender on all snowboard courses.

The consistency that has produced three consecutive overall World Cup titles in snowboard cross continued Saturday in Lake Louise, Alta.

Maltais was second in the big final to Lindsey Jacobellis of the U.S. at the Sportcheck World Cup.

Her second podium in as many World Cup races vaulted Maltais into a familiar position at the top of the overall World Cup standings.

"I'm looking to be fast on every kind of course," Maltais said. "Technical stuff was one of my weaknesses in the past and now it's one of my strengths. I think right now, every kind of course I'm doing well.

"One of strengths is to be consistent and I showed it again today."

Maltais was second in the season-opening World Cup in Montafon, Austria, earlier this month.

The 33-year-old from Petite-Riviere-St Francois, Que., won bronze in the 2006 Winter Olympics and is a medal contender again in Sochi, Russia, in February.

Maltais dominated her quarter-final and semifinal. She lost ground to Jacobellis on the first turn and couldn't run the American down before the finish line.

"Even if it's a second place I'm really satisfied," Maltais said. "I want to step it up for the next couple of races and keep improving myself and be at my top level in Sochi."

In snowboard cross, also called boardercross, athletes race a course of bumps, rolls and turns in heats of four with the top two advancing to the next round.

Similar to short-track speed skating, crashes are common and boarders can come from behind to win if the leaders go down.

Helene Olafsen of Norway took bronze and reigning Olympic champion Maelle Ricker of Squamish, B.C., was fourth in the women's final.

In the men's final, Jarryd Hughes of Australia, Konstantin Schad of Germany and Alex Deibold of the U.S. won gold, silver, and bronze, respectively.

Calgary's Chris Robanske and Rob Fagan of Squamish were eliminated in the quarter-finals, while Kevin Hill of Trail, B.C., went out in the round of 16.

Ricker battled from behind to finish second in her semifinal and join Maltais in the championship round. But the 34-year-old crashed early in the final to fall out of medal contention.

"I definitely wish I could rewind and re-do that big final," Ricker said. "I was on a Sunday drive, but it's Saturday afternoon.

"I was so slow out of the gate. I bumped with Helene, but it was really minor and I went down. I must have not had my weight on my board properly, knocked me the wrong way and I was on my bum."

--The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 22, 2013 B16

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