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Ricker give Canadians much needed cheer

Snowboarder Maelle Ricker gave Canadians a welcome distraction with a gold medal at one of the Olympic venues that has caused concern at the trouble-plagued Vancouver Games.

"I'm so overwhelmed I can't believe it," Ricker said yesterday after her win in the snowboard cross, the host nation's second gold of these games -- the first two for Canada in three Olympics on home soil.

The start of qualifying was delayed because of rain and fog. And thousands of people who bought tickets for her event didn't get to see Ricker, with organisers having to close a standing area at Cypress Mountain because it became too dangerous due to a lack of snow required to pack down a temporary platform.

Too much snow at Whistler overnight continued to play havoc with the Alpine schedule, with the men's super-combined postponed and the women's downhill training cancelled.

At the luge track, Tatjana Huefner's victory gave Germany its ninth women's gold medal in 13 Olympic competitions. Huefner's win also gave Germany a sweep of singles luge gold, after Felix Loch won the men's event.

Germany now have three gold medals, equal with South Korea and Switzerland, and one clear of Canada, France, Sweden and the United States.

Alexandre Bilodeau's win in the moguls on Sunday night was Canada's first Olympic gold medal at home, after missing out in 1976 at Montreal and in the Calgary Winter Games in 1988.

Ricker lifted the mood again with her win, which wasn't entirely expected despite her lead in the World Cup standings.

It helped that her main rival Lindsey Jacobellis, the American who cost herself a gold medal at Turin four years ago when she tried to show off near the end, was disqualified in the semi-finals.