Maelle Ricker off to Sochi with wrist cast

Maëlle Ricker is all smiles Saturday afternoon as she signs autographs at the Vancouver airport and talks with reporters about Sochi.

B.C. athletes leave from Vancouver airport Saturday afternoon

2010 snowboard cross Olympic gold medalist Maelle Ricker of West Vancouver waves goodbye from the Vancouver airport Saturday afternoon as she heads for Sochi. (CBC)

Maëlle Ricker was all smiles as she signed autographs at the Vancouver airport Saturday afternoon and talked with reporters about Sochi, her left wrist still in a cast. 

Maelle Ricker is all smiles as she signs autographs at the Vancouver airport as she prepared to leave for Sochi Saturday afternoon. (CBC)

The 35-year-old from West Vancouver won gold in women's snowboard cross at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, and was the first women to take first place on home soil. She is eager to defend her title at this year's Games, in spite of a broken wrist incurred during a training accident on Jan. 28. 

Ricker says she has spent a lot of time watching and focusing on her Olympic teammates already in Sochi, and getting ready for her own performance.

"You know what? I've been really busy. So I've been doing a lot of training and definitely have had a lot going on this last week, so not too much waiting — just a lot of tasks to get done."

Maelle Ricker shows offer her splint before boarding a plane to Sochi to defend her Olympic gold meal in snowboard cross.

Ricker will be competing with a cast, but seems to be taking it in stride.

"Good! Super fancy splint," she told CBC News. "All good — got the compression on there for the flight."

Chris Robanske back from injury

Teammate Chris Robanske is also no stranger to injury. The three-time men's snowboard cross World Cup medallist, who calls North Vancouver home these days, has had two seasons cut short due to spine and ankle injuries. 

Three time World Cup medalist Chris Robanske says he's looking forward to competing for gold in Sochi. (CBC)

He admits the speed and the collisions can make his sport a little scary, but says he likes that part of it. Robanske says he's ready for Sochi and arriving fashionably late.

"It feels weird! I was in the gym watching the Olympics on TV and I was thinking, wait a minute, shouldn't I be there by now? Well, we're on our way now, and we have a good system, and a good plan, so it should be good."

He has celebrated Canada's early medals in these Games and says he is optimistic there are plenty more to come.

"Well, I think the Canadian team is really strong. Obviously we put a lot of preparation into all the sports, all the different disciplines. I think it should be a good games."

The women's snowboard cross event is scheduled for Feb. 16 and the men's snowboard cross event for Feb. 17.

With files from the CBC's Tim Weekes