Maelle Ricker celebrates gold in the women's snowboard cross final at Cypress Mountain in West Vancouver, B.C., Tuesday February 16, 2010, at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
VANCOUVER - Maelle Ricker is Canada's newest Golden Girl.
Ricker won gold in the women's snowboard cross Tuesday, pushing Canada's medal haul at the 2010 Winter Olympics to five, including a pair of golds. Canadian athletes have now won at least one medal in each of the last four days.
"It's crazy," Ricker said. "Indescribable. I'm going to pinch myself."
The product of West Vancouver, B.C., made it to the final in the 2006 Olympics in Turin, but crashed and finished fourth. Tuesday she led the final race wire-to-wire to become the first Canadian woman to win a gold medal at a home Olympics.
For all the criticism the Cypress Mountain venue received - from the lack of snow, to the tens of thousands of tickets that were cancelled due to unsafe conditions - it has been friendly so far to Canadian athletes. Ricker is the fourth Canadian to win a medal at the West Vancouver facility.
"There's so many people behind us and so many Canadians watching and having a great time," Ricker said.
"I'm really happy and proud to be a part of it."
Moguls skier Jenn Heil won Canada's first medal Saturday, a silver in women's moguls. Alex Bilodeau then won gold Sunday in men's moguls and Mike Robertson won silver Monday in men's snowboard cross.
Speedskater Kristina Groves, who won bronze in the women's 3,000 metres Sunday, is the lone Canadian to win a medal at a venue other than Cypress.
The Canadian men's hockey team began its quest for gold with an 8-0 rout over Norway at Canada Hockey Place. Jarome Iginla and Dany Heatley led the way with two goals each. Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Mike Richards and Ryan Getzlaf also scored, while Roberto Luongo turned aside 15 shots for the shutout.
"The whole atmosphere was great," Iginla said. "It was everything - we've been looking forward to this for a long time. The crowd was awesome, it was actually even more red and white than I'd imagined."
Earlier in the day, the United States beat Switzerland 3-1. Russia played Latvia in the nightcap.
Canada plays Switzerland Thursday.
The blowouts continued in women's hockey with the United States hammering Russia 13-0. The Canadian women, who are 2-0, were idle Tuesday and conclude the round robin Wednesday against Sweden.
Curling began at Canada Olympic Centre on Tuesday and both Canadian rinks got off to winning starts. In men's action, Edmonton's Kevin Martin defeated Tomas Ulsrud's rink from Norway 7-6 in an extra end.
"What a heck of a game," said Martin, who saw a 5-1 lead slip away. "We had the lead, but you're not going to be able to keep a guy at bay for the whole game. So they came back - what a game. Man, it feels good to get in and get curling. And an electric atmosphere. Amazing. It was so loud, that was pretty cool."
Martin played Germany's Andy Kapp in the late game.
On the women's side, Calgary's Cheryl Bernard needed to draw to the four-foot with her last rock in the 10th end to secure a 5-4 win over Mirjam Ott of Switzerland.
• At the Pacific Coliseum, Patrick Chan - the silver medallist at the 2009 ISU world championships - stumbled in his quest for his first Olympic medal. The Toronto native sits seventh after the short program with 81.12 points. Russia's Evgeni Pluschenko leads with 90.85. Edmonton's Vaughn Chipeur scored 57.22 and is in 24th place.
The free skate is Thursday.
• In speedskating, Christine Nesbitt of London, Ont., was 10th in the women's 500 metres, but she was using the event as a warm-up for the 1,000 metres on Thursday. Shannon Rempel of Winnipeg finished 27th, Olympic rookie Anastasia Bucsis of Calgary placed 34th.
• In the biathlon pursuit races, timing errors marred an otherwise great performance by Megan Tandy of Prince George, B.C. Competing in her first Olympics, Tandy started 46th in the 10-kilometre race but passed 10 competitors to finish 36th. Sweden protested the race after one of their skiers, Anna Carin Olofsson-Zidek, was delayed 15 seconds at the start.
The men's race also had timing hiccups and Jean-Philippe Le Guellec of Quebec City was one of the casualties. He was told to start too soon, and he wasn't ready to go. He ended up finishing 11th after starting seventh in the 12.5-km race.
• In women's luge, Regan Lauscher of Red Deer, Alta., finished her 16-year career with a 15th-place finish. Calgary's Alex Gough had a strong final two runs to jump to 18th place from 22nd. Calgary's Meaghan Simister was 25th.
• Poor weather forced the postponement of the men's super combined ski race.