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Canadian Olympic snowboard cross champ Maelle Ricker needs wrist surgery

ASPEN, Colo. - Defending Olympic snowboard cross champion Maelle Ricker needs surgery after suffering a wrist injury Tuesday.

The West Vancouver, B.C., native was injured during pre-Olympic training, putting her appearance at next month's Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in doubt.

Steven Hills, Canada Snowboard's executive director, couldn't say whether or not the injury was a break or fracture and expected to release further details Wednesday.

He added he expects Ricker, the defending world champion, would still be able to compete at the Olympics.

"While the timing of this injury is very unfortunate, we know that Maelle is an incredibly resilient athlete that has battled back from several injuries over her career to accomplish great things for Canada," said Hills in a release.

"We hope that Maelle's surgery is successful and believe that she will have every opportunity to join Team Canada in Sochi with the goal of competing in the snowboard cross event on February 16."

Carle Brenneman of Whistler, B.C., would replace Ricker if she cannot compete at the Olympics.

The 35-year-old Ricker became the first Canadian woman to win Olympic gold on home soil at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

She made her Olympic debut in 1998 on Canada's halfpipe team at Nagano, Japan.

Ricker returned to the Games in 2006 at Turin, Italy, with the snowboard cross team. But the event ended in a crash during the final that forced her to be airlifted to a hospital.

Four years later she made up for the disappointment in Italy with a gold medal in Vancouver.

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