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Canadian Maelle Ricker cruises to snowboard gold

Canadian Maelle Ricker wins the host nation's second gold of the Olympics as she cruises to victory in the snowboard cross

Gillings toils in snowboard as Canada triumph

Canadian Maelle Ricker won the host nation's second gold of the Olympics as she cruised to victory in the snowboard cross at Cypress Mountain.

The 31-year-old Vancouver resident was unchallenged after a lightning-quick start which put her well out in front.

French rider Deborah Anthonioz clinched the silver medal, capitalising when Swiss Olivia Nobs and Norway's Helene Olafsen crashed out half-way through.

Briton Zoe Gillings battled to an eighth-placed finish overall.

After speeding through qualification and the quarter-final, Gillings finished third in her semi-final run, leaving the 24-year-old to challenge in the small final for places fifth to eighth.

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However, disaster struck immediately in the small final as she failed to ride the first jump and bowed out.

"Something in my left knee went in the semi-final and pure adrenaline kept me going," she told BBC Sport.

"I wasn't sure whether to race the small final and even in the start gate I didn't know how far I'd get down the course.

"As soon as we were about to race I felt my knee again so I decided to pop out of the start gate and then get off the course as soon as possible.

"I'm not sure what I would have done if I had been in the final. The lure of an Olympic medal would have been immense but my knee would not been able to have withstood it.

"Overall I'm pretty happy with a top eight in the Olympics. It was a much better experience than Turin four years ago. I love competing in the Winter Games so now I'll start planning for Sochi in four years' time."

Cypress Thrills - the Olympic snowboard cross action

Cypress thrills and snowboard spills

"It was awesome for Maelle to win and I'm really stoked for her. She has been in great form all season and was the favourite leading into the race but she came through. I'm so happy for her."

For Ricker, who came into the Olympics race leading the World Cup standings, it was a victory lap which helped to avenge the fourth-placed finish she recorded in Turin in 2006.

"I tried to explode out of the gate. I really wanted to get out of that gate as fast as I could," said Ricker.

"It was really, really hard to get a clean run all the way down the course, but I just held on and did my best. I was really just focusing on doing the run and going through."

World champion Helene Olafsen, 19, finished fourth in the final while American Lindsey Jacobellis again felt heartbreak at the Olympics, crashing out in the semi-final as she tried to reel in Ricker on the first corner.

Jacobellis, 24, who looked certain to win the 2006 gold, but crashed with the line in sight while showboating and ended up with silver, took fifth place in the 2010 event.

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see also
As it happened - Winter Olympics day five
16 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Miller set for first Olympic gold
21 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010
Winter Olympics day five photos
16 Feb 10 |  Vancouver 2010

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