Snowboard rivalry set to resume

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER ó Tuesday, the fifth day of the Vancouver Olympics, will feature the first big clash between Canada and the United States at the 2010 Games.

Squamish, B.C.ís Maelle Ricker is vying to beat American rival Lindsey Jacobellis in womenís snowboard cross on the beleaguered slopes of Cypress Mountain.

Jacobellis, a 24-year-old from Statton, Vt., has three consecutive X Games championships. Ricker, 31, leads world cup standings with three wins and a third place in five races. Ricker was fourth in Turin in 2006, where Switzerlandís Tanja Frieden won gold. Frieden retired after a pre-Olympic injury, so a new champion will be crowned Tuesday afternoon.

Ricker is a former ski racer who was fifth in halfpipe at Nagano 1998 before converting to snowboard cross.

ďI just have to believe in myself, I have to bring my ego, I have to be confident,Ē Ricker said. ďItís going to be very tight racing. Thereís a lot of great girls out on the circuit and theyíre only getting better.Ē

There will be 4,000 fewer people cheering because general admission tickets were cancelled after a Saturday rainstorm washed a foot of snow away from the bottom of the viewing area.

Elsewhere, the puck drops on the menís hockey tournament when the U.S. and Switzerland meet at noon PST in Canada Hockey Place. Canada opens the tournament at 4:30 p.m. PST against Norway.

Kevin Martinís rink faces Norway and Germany in the first day of curling competition at the Vancouver Olympic Centre. In menís figure skating, Patrick Chan of Toronto and Vaughn Chipeur of Calgary are in the menís singles short program at the Pacific Coliseum.

Whistlerís Michael Janyk is one of three Canadians in the menís super combined slalom at Whistler Creekside. Saskatoonís Regan Lauscher was 12th in Salt Lake and 10th in Turin but is hoping to land on the podium at the Whistler Sliding Centre after the womenís luge final.

Christine Nesbitt of Calgary will contest 500-metre speed skating at the Richmond Olympic Oval.

Quebec Cityís Jean Philippe Le Guellec, sixth in the menís 10-km. sprint biathlon, is the only Canadian entered in the menís 12.5-km. pursuit. Zina Kocher leads four Canadian women into the womenís 10-km. pursuit.

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