KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — A couple of misjudged jumps and some bad luck.
That was all it took to knock Vail native Chris Del Bosco out of the Olympic ski cross competition on Thursday.
“You can be skiing well and be the fastest guy, and one little mistake and it’s over,” said Del Bosco, who had the second-fastest qualifying time earlier in the day. “That’s what I love and hate about it. I love it when it goes your way and hate it when it doesn’t go your way.”
Del Bosco, who races for Canada, had a great start to the quarterfinal heat, but he didn’t cleanly clear a couple of jumps at the top, losing speed. Changing snow conditions on the warm and sunny day at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park made judging the jumps difficult, he said.
One of the other racers then clipped his tails, and Del Bosco could never recover.
“Just bummed out,” he said. “I was skiing so well and couldn’t adapt to the conditions, and that was it.”
Canadian ski cross coach Eric Archer lamented the bad luck for Del Bosco.
“He was sitting OK in second place and then the guy from behind got between his skis and just kind of wiped his tails out,” Archer said. “There’s not much you can do about that, and it happens all the time.”
Del Bosco’s parents, Pam and Armando “Del” Del Bosco cheered Chris loudly with a strong contingent of Canadians.
“He’s been skiing well all week,” said Del Del Bosco. “One mistake. That’s all it took.”
Del Bosco had two top-five finishes in World Cup races last month in Val Thorens, France, after getting off to a slow start this year. Last season, he was out for much of the year with a shoulder injury, but came back to place second in the test event in Sochi.
He placed an agonizing fourth in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics after he attempted to go for a pass to improve his bronze-medal position.
His Sochi finish is even tougher to accept, he said.
“Anywhere not on the podium sucks, but to go out in the first round when you know you’re skiing well is tough to swallow,” Del Bosco said.
France swept the podium. Jean Frederic Chapuis won gold, Arnaud Bovolenta took silver, and Jonathan Midol got the bronze.
American John Teller did not advance out of the quarterfinals.
Del Bosco, 31, was a junior national champion alpine ski racer but was kicked off the U.S. team and stripped of his title because of problems with drugs and alcohol. He committed to becoming sober and, thanks to a chance encounter, landed with the Canadian team as a ski cross racer (his father was born in Canada).
“I’ve gained so much by the changes I’ve made in my life,” he said. “All this stuff is icing on the cake for me. I get to do what I love to do, and I wouldn’t trade it. Just some days it doesn’t go your way. ... We’ll pick up the pieces and keep going.”