Maltais dominates on home soil

Canadian snowboarder Dominique Maltais gives a big thumbs up as she heads to the podium following...

Canadian snowboarder Dominique Maltais gives a big thumbs up as she heads to the podium following her victory in the women's snowboard-cross world cup event at Blue Mountain on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012. (James Masters/QMI Agency)

BILL WALKER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

BLUE MOUNTAINS, ONT. - Dominique Maltais figures her dominance on the slopes comes from her hard work in the summer.

The 31-year-old Petite-Riviere-St-Francoise, Que., native showed just how hard she must work in the off-season, leading wire to wire in every run en route to winning the LG Snowboard-Cross FIS World Cup final Wednesday at the Blue Mountain Resort.

“I think all of my energy that I put out during the summer and on the snow is paying off right now,” said Maltais. “I really killed the qualifications and I was expecting to be fast (for the finals). I had little mistakes but I just kept the lead all the way down.”

Maltais is the top-ranked racer on the World Cup circuit with podium finishes in all five of her races this year. She also won gold in the X Games last month.

“There were a lot of fans (at the Blue Mountain Resort on Wednesday) so I’m really proud to show them that Canadians are the best,” Maltais said. “I’ve been training a lot during the summers and I’m training with the guys too on snow.”

Maltais claimed gold ahead of Bulgaria’s Alexandra Jekova in second and Canadian teammate Maelle Ricker, who was third.

“I was trying (to pull ahead of Jekova) but I couldn’t find an opening,” Ricker, 33, of Squamish, B.C., said. “Dom and Alex are just so good on the corners that I just couldn’t find a way through them.”

American Jacqueline Hernandez won the small final to finish seventh.

Other Canadians making it to Wednesday’s final rounds were: Tayler Wilton, 16th; Carle Brenneman, 17th; Michelle Brodeur, 19th; and Frederique Joncas, 24th.

The Canadian men didn’t have as much success Wednesday. Robert Fagan was the top-ranked finisher at 13th.

He was sitting solidly in third during his quarterfinal run when Poland’s Mateusz Ligocki fell in front of him. Fagan didn’t have time to swerve and he collided with Ligocki, knocking himself out of contention and leaving his snowboard with a crack running its width, about 25 centimetres down from its toe.

“He’s a wild man and it’s hard to get by him,” said the 35-year-old Cranbrook native. “It’s hard to pick a line when he’s all over and I just went right through him. When guys are sailing and getting wild, it’s hard to pick a side.”

Other Canadians competing on Wednesday were: Kevin Hill, 17th; Pierce Smith, 30th; Matthew Tunnicliffe, 31st; Pat Tunnicliffe, 32nd; and Thomas Pitman, 39th.

Eventual winner Pierre Vaultier of France, unlike Fagan, was able to dodge a fall.

Vaultier was firmly in second behind Australia’s Alex Pullin with only two jumps to go and saw his medal colour change when the Australian fell on what should have been a routine landing. Pullin ended up finishing fourth.

“I look at this as a second for me because if Alex could stay on his feet, I would be second,” said the 34-year-old Vaultier. “The course is a bit sketchy with some icy spots so much can happen. You can take the lead even if you are far behind. Anything can happen. Even first can make a mistake from nothing.”

German David Speiser was second while American Nick Baumgartner finished third.

Italian Alberto Schiavon won the small final to finish seventh.


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