Olympic gold medalist loves BC’s small ski towns
Maëlle Ricker’s smile was beamed around the world after winning the gold medal in the snowboard cross event at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
When I caught up with her on the seawall in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, young fans surrounded her. (Like them, I got to try on her gold medal!) You might also see her hiking or biking near Squamish. Come winter, though, when the fresh powder beckons, there’s nowhere to go but up.
When did your dream to be in the Winter Olympics begin?
It began before I even knew I wanted to be a winter sport athlete. I just wanted to be the best in the world at any sport. It was a dream to stand on the podium at an Olympic games.
What are some of your best memories snowboarding at Whistler?
I love the big powder days when you can ride peak to creek at Whistler all day until your legs are screaming at you to stop, and then go for a big Après Ski burger at Roland's Pub in Whistler Creekside.
What are some of your favourite small mountain ski towns in Canada?
Squamish, Whistler, Rossland, Kimberley, Powder King and Tofino. I also love going into the backcountry for splitboarding (a snowboard that splits in half for cross-country ski touring and goes back together for snowboarding). It’s nice to get away from cities and ride some untracked lines.
What places in Canada mean the most to you?
I love going to the parks. British Columbia has so many to explore and camping was a huge family activity in the summers. There are so many just out my back door here in Squamish. Garibaldi Park has great hiking in the summer and touring in the winter, but even the mountain biking in Alice Lake Provincial Park just behind my house is amazing. I also love going to the Rockies and to Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island for road trips.
What do you for fun in your neighbourhood?
I like being outside biking, hiking, climbing and surfing … that can all be done around Squamish or Tofino. It’s fun to go to a breakfast joint on a rainy day and play a little Scrabble as well.
What place in Canada would you love to see? Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. I have never been to the East Coast. I travel the world but I have yet to explore all of Canada. My Mom has been there and has some amazing photographs.... looks beautiful and the people are apparently very friendly.
Whatsecret spot is most overlooked in your area?
Every town, city, park has more than meets the eye. In Squamish alone there is an amazing trail network that goes for miles, dozens of lakes to swim in and hundreds of cliffs to climb.
Photo credit : © 2012 Adam and Kev Photography