ASPEN, Colorado - Last year, American John Teller sped past defending gold medalist Chris Del Bosco, upsetting the former Eagle-Vail resident and preventing the first back-to-back gold in the 14-year history of Winter X men's skiercross.
The first back-to-back never had a chance Sunday afternoon.
Teller failed to qualify for the finals after crashing in his semifinal heat. His absence paved the way for Del Bosco to reclaim his title. In the final, Del Bosco utilized an excellent start to gain the lead and fought hard until the end to win his second career Winter X gold.
"This is my favorite event," said Del Bosco, who competes for Canada. "Last year, I was close, and I was coming back here thinking that this is a big one on my list. I kind of have been having an up and down season, so to come here and get the gold is pretty special."
Filip Flisar, of Slovenia, took silver, and Canadian Dave Duncan captured his second Winter X medal with the bronze. Teller took third in the consolation heat.
"I like racing Teller, and it would have been good if he was there," Del Bosco said. "Sometimes, that's how it goes."
The Canadian performance is one the games are getting accustomed to in skiercross. In 2010, led by Del Bosco, the Canadian team swept the podium. In 2011, only one Canadian appeared on the podium, but this year saw a return to the dominance.
"It just shows we have a lot of depth on the team and it could have been more and that just shows how crazy this sport is," Del Bosco said.
Duncan added: "Our team has shown year in and year out that we're the top team. I think it's just because of the guys on it - we're pushing each other in training year round."
The event also marked the end of the long career of Aspen native Casey Puckett. Puckett, who finished fourth, is one of just three American athletes to appear in five Olympics. Of his 10 appearances in Winter X, he has two gold medals and two silver medals.
"You always have to watch out for him because you never know," Del Bosco said. "He skied really well last year, and he's had a good run at it. He's always been a guy who I have battled with, and I wish him the best."
Flisar added: "It's amazing to have the old guy coming over and over again being so good. Seeing him in the finals, I felt so good for him. He has the touch."
Despite the fact that the women's skiercross field featured none of the returning medalists from last year, the final race still generated much excitement and speed.
Norwegian skier Marte Gjefsen battled more than just the competitors: Both of her wrists were wrapped in casts. This caused Gjefsen to have slow starts, but she utilized her pure racing ability to claim her first Winter X gold in her third appearance.
"I figured that I wouldn't be the fastest one out of the start," Djefsen said. "I had to trust my gliding skills and pass some people down the course."
Fellow Norwegian Hedda Berntsen claimed her second silver medal here, the last one coming in '09, and Jenny Owens, of Austria, took her first Winter X medal with bronze.
Last year's gold medalist, Kelsey Serwa, did not compete because of a knee injury that required surgery, and silver medalist Ophelie David broke her left leg weeks ago.
"It was anyone's race today," Owens said. "Ophelie broke her leg in training and she was pretty much the one who comes here and dominates. When she went out, I thought, 'This should be interesting.'"
Top-ranked World Cup skiercross competitor Sanna Leudi dislocated her left shoulder after crashing on the opening jumps in the finals. She lay on the course until medical personnel were able to carry her off before the men's finals.