Olympic Gold Medalist, Maelle Ricker
The 2018 Winter Olympics are officially over, and I don't know about you, but I'm always so inspired by the heart and soul each athlete showcases.
My favourite part has always been hearing about the journey of each athlete leading up to the Olympics. The ups, the downs, the focus, the commitment and the passion they put into being the best they can be. Usually we only get to see the highlight reel which is amazing, but overcoming adversity along the way is what makes them the profound athlete they are.
Maelle Ricker, is the perfect example of all of that and more. She may be one of the most humble beings I've ever crossed paths with. Her journey to winning GOLD consisted of overcoming injuries, but more than anything else... PASSION FOR HER SPORT!
For those who don't know Maelle, shame on you, just kidding.
Maelle is a retired Canadian Snowboarder who specialised in snowboard cross. She won an Olympic gold medal in the snowboard cross event at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver to become the first Canadian woman to win a gold medal on home soil at the Olympics.
In honour of the Olympics, and all the athletes who fought to make their dreams come true... here's to you!
Meet Maelle Ricker:
Tell me a bit about who you are, and how you got into Snowboard Cross:
I'm a Sea to Sky resident who has always loved the outdoors and competitive sport. These two passions combined perfectly in helping find my path to snowboarding with the Canadian Team for over 2 decades. I was lucky to grow up between going to school in West Vancouver in the French Immersion program and being in Whistler on weekends and holidays. This allowed me to participate in team sports at school, and be in the mountains during my free time, a love that is shared with my whole family. Having learned a second language in school also helped me travel and communicate with my French team mates and coaches along the way... a very important asset I wouldn't trade for the world:)
I got into Snowboard Cross by racing in the local events at Whistler in the 90s, followed by doing some pro events and world cups shortly there after. I was also competing in the halfpipe so I split my time between those two disciplines and freeriding with my brother. The skills I acquired from the halfpipe and from freeriding along with growing up ski racing really helped me succeed in Snowboard Cross. It's an event that requires a combination of race tactics, air awareness, and line choice. All of these skills are needed, and decisions need to be made on the fly are crucial, so having the background of riding in Whistler really helped.
What are you most proud of?
I'm proud of my work ethic for preparation and my love for the mountains. It helped me be ready for the tough days of training and racing when things don't line up as you would like. All the traveling through out the years has given me an appreciation and understanding of other cultures which I got to see through the eyes of mountain life.
What was one major setback or challenge you had to overcome in your career?
Injury can be such a big setback, but also a great way to reset and "re-stoke" the fire. I had my share of knee issues and other bumps along the road. It allowed me be hungry to get stronger and come back better than before. My first ACL replacement in 1999 was a giant kick in the pants to train properly and be more professional with snowboarding. Before that I was floundering from a high paced high school life to a few years of taking it easy living in Whistler. The work of rehabbing that ACL reset my work ethic I had in school and allowed me have the longevity in my career as a full time snowboarder.
What did you love most about competing?
I loved everything about it. The team atmosphere, the travel, the training, the emotions of competition, the ability to do a job that is outside and in the mountains.
How important do you feel your mindset was when it came to competing and pushing the limits?
Mindset is a huge component to competition. Beyond mindset is belief. Belief gave me confidence and in turn helped put me in the right mindset of completing a run, or making a pass. All of that comes from the ground work of training, experience, and preparation.
Knowing there were always women fighting for a spot on the Canadian Snowboard Cross Team, how did you remain focused on your own journey and not get caught up in comparison, worrying about your spot?
I spent most of time chasing the guys so the fight for me was to keep up with them, I always compared my runs, my technique, my speed, and my fitness level to the fastest guys. It's not that I didn't admire or respect the other women, it's just that chasing the guys always gave me the desire to be better and not settle.
Did you ever visualize some sort of success before it happened?
I did visualize technique and race scenarios. I always went to bed and made sure I could see myself doing a good run. Then in the morning I would wake up and do the same thing before getting out of bed... again before training, between warm-up and qualifying, and of course before finals. I can still run through most of my races years later.
What feelings come to mind when you think back to winning a gold medal for Canada in the 2010 Olympics?
To be honest, the winning part is a bit of a blur. My feelings come from the journey leading up to that moment in 2010. I remember more certain moments in races and training, and freeriding in Whistler that year. Those moments stand out above crossing the finish line. My final race in Vancouver was far from a good run. As Marney McBean (Olympic rower), once told me... "sometimes you gotta win ugly". This statement reflects exactly how I feel about my 2010 Olympic final run... messy, holding on for dear life, and getting the job done.
How did you deal with pressure and having to "sacrifice" things along the way?
I don't really feel like I sacrificed anything. I feel like it was all a privilege. Thinking back now, I do regret not making more of an effort to make time for a post secondary education, that's about it.
Do you have a favourite quote or motto that you live by?
"Think it, feel it, do it ":)
Simple and to the point. Clear and concise.
Aside from your sport, is there a specific athlete you admired, or always looked up to?
I was in awe of Clara Hughes, to win medals in both the summer and winter games is incredible.
What was it like retiring, and moving onto that next chapter of life?
Retiring is hands down the hardest part of it all. It is still hard and a struggle. All the training and skills I learned about as an athlete really seem easy faced with this next chapter. I'm excited about it, but I mourn the athlete life. I learned so many skills from sport, and applying them now should be easy, but it's honestly not. I knew it was time to retire and transition to new things because I lost the fight and desire to give it absolutely 100% every time I strapped into my board or laced up my training shoes. To tricky thing is find that fire I once had as an athlete to something new. I love working with the younger women of the National Team. I'm trying to learn to coach without just trying to implant my "when I was racing, this how I did it blah blah blah" mentality in the women. Realizing that every athlete has a different way to succeed and helping them reach their potential with their personality is tricky. It makes me admire a good coach even more.
I try to imagine I'm really old and looking back on this part of life... to realize the time where I was a full time athlete was a stepping stone into something bigger. It helps me move forward.
What advice do you have for other women, when it comes to pushing the limits, and pursuing their dreams?
Take it all in and enjoy it. All the ups and downs all become ups when you are pursuing your dream. It's all a part of the pathway that forms you.
HERE ARE MY BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS:
#1: Look at setbacks as an opportunity to reset and 're-stoke' the fire. It's all apart of the ride!
#2: Sometimes success is about holding on for dear life, and just getting the job done.
#3: Visualize where you want to be and what you want it to look like. UNTIL IT HAPPENS!
What were your biggest takeaways? Share it in the comments below!
Maelle, you make me proud to be Canadian. You are so incredibly humble and your energy and passion for your sport is contagious. Wishing you all the best in your new chapter!
Thank you for taking the time to share the importance of mindset, adversity and more than anything, unwavering commitment to your dream.
Together, let's spread the power of mindset and resilience with as many women as possible.
Anything is possible if you have the right mindset.
Stay tuned for more interviews...
Mindset Coach and Blogger,
P.S if you're looking to work on your mindset, find your tribe of ambitious women, and go to the next level, I encourage you to check out The Femme and Fierce Collective.