Eagle-Vail’s Chris Del Bosco is back for Olympic ski cross
CALGARY — Eagle-Vail’s Chris Del Bosco is officially a three-time Olympian.
It doesn’t get old. Del Bosco got his official invitation from the Canadian Ski Cross Team on Monday, Jan. 22.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Del Bosco said on Wednesday, Jan. 24, from Calgary International Airport in Alberta. “I’m just so busy, focusing on each race. I knew the selection date was there, but it doesn’t settle in. I’m super happy where I am. Competing at the top for that long is pretty cool.”
Del Bosco, in fact, has now qualified for the Olympics every time the sport has been contested — 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia, 2014 in Sochi, Russia, and now Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Stops and starts
The road to South Korea was more challenging than expected. But Del Bosco, 35, is no stranger to assorted adversity. He was on his way to a spot on the U.S. Ski Team when addiction struggles derailed his career.
His father, Armando, aka Del, is dual citizen, so Del Bosco got a second chance with the Canadians and the then new sport of ski cross, where racers, four at a time, ski down a course filled with assorted obstacles.
In February 2017, in Idre Fjall, Sweden, Del Bosco had an awkward landing during a race and knew he wasn’t 100 percent. His first MRI was inconclusive. He finished the season, which was capped by a second-place finish at Blue Mountain, Ontario.
After the season, his second MRI and ensuing surgery in April showed that he had all but torn the root attachment of the meniscus of his left knee. He was meant to be out six months.
And, naturally he was back on his mountain-bike, his summer hobby, by August.
He wasn’t on snow until November, which made it all the more surprising that he won the World Cup opener in Val Thorens, France, on Dec. 7, 2017.
With that sort of momentum, he was hoping to carry that into the rest of the condensed December schedule. The World Cup the next day in Val Thorens was canceled, as were the finals in Arosa, Italy, on Dec. 13. Just days later, Del Bosco had only one day of training at Montafon, Austria, and did not make it out of qualification. In Innichen, Italy, the final stop of the December swing, Del Bosco had the misfortune of being on the wrong side of a last second pass during the first round.
January has been kinder to Del Bosco. Back in Idre Fjall, he was eighth, and he took sixth last weekend in Nakiska, Alberta.
“I’m skiing well. The speed is where I want to be,” Del Bosco said. “The results have been tough this year. There are a lot of different guys on the podium. There’s a lot of depth. It’s not easy.”
Preparing for Pyeongchang
It isn’t easy, but Del Bosco has had quite the career with 10 World Cup wins, 26 podiums, a win at the 2011 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships and two X Games gold medals.
Del Bosco was fourth in at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, crashing in spectacular fashion while attempting to pass into the gold-medal spot just before the finish line.
In Sochi in 2014, he didn’t make it out of the first round.
He’s skied the Olympic course back in 2016, finishing 15th, while being what he said was about “60 percent” at the time with a back injury. While he expects organizers have made changes to the course, particularly the start, he said, “It suits me. It’s open. It has big jumps, lots of features. It’s right up my alley.”
Del Bosco was returning to Whistler, British Columbia, on Wednesday for a minicamp before heading to Pyeongchang. The competition is Wednesday, Feb. 21, in South Korea or Tuesday, Feb. 20, in the United States, so he’s not rushing over for the Opening Ceremonies.
There will be three days of training for the athletes to get used to the venue, and then Del Bosco chases his dream.
“It would be huge, for sure,” he said. It’s one of those things that you dream about growing up, being an Olympic gold medalist. I was close in Vancouver. I had bad luck in Sochi. Hopefully, the third time’s a charm.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.