Del Bosco swoops bronze in photo finish
ASPEN — Canadian Brady Leman realized a lifelong dream at the X Games on Saturday, winning the men’s ski cross competition in a hotly contested event at the X Games in Aspen.
Leman’s strategy was simple, capture the hole shot (early lead) and ride it to victory. Then, of course, repeat — which he did three times on Saturday, first in quarterfinals, then semis and finally finals.
“I dreamed of winning X Games ski cross long before World Cup. This event pioneered our sport, so it’s huge,” he said. “Biggest, best day.”
DEL BOSCO THIRD
While Leman didn’t have to pass any racers en route to victory, defending champion Chris Del Bosco, of Eagle-Vail, had to scrap for third. Throughout the day of heat racing, the competitor to make the most passes in the competition — which pits six racers against each other in simultaneous racing — was Del Bosco, right up until the very last split second of action.
In a Michael Phelps-ian moment, Del Bosco came from behind in the air at the finish line to reach his hand out in front of Alex Fiva and claim bronze by 2-hundredths of a second.
It was ESPN correspondent Nicole Briscoe’s favorite moment of the competition.
“Fourth to third in the last second over the jump? It was amazing,” she said.
Del Bosco said the X Games course was a little shorter this year and required careful racing.
“It’s definitely got a few key features that you have to be really precise on,” he said.
BRUNO THE MAGICIAN
The podium finish is another marker in what has been a good season so far for Del Bosco. A racer whose best performances usually happen in January, Del Bosco was off to a fast start this year starting in early December when he won a pair of World Cup races to begin the season.
“To start strong right off the bat was huge for me,” he said.
He said equipment wise, the only change he made was in his boots, getting his foot 3D scanned and boots specially molded in Germany by Dano Bruno, a bootfitter at Gorsuch in Vail.
“He’s a magician when it comes to boot work,” Del Bosco said of Bruno. “It’s feels like I’m so neutral, but when I need my edges and when I need to make a move inside or outside it’s just there.”
Del Bosco needed to make plenty of those moves just to make it to finals, much less make the podium on Saturday.
In the quarterfinal round, Del Bosco spent most of the race in fourth — the top three advance to the next round in quarterfinals and semi finals — before making a move at the very end of the race to swoop third.
While Leman was dashing out to an early lead in semis and finals, Del Bosco actually started last in both contests, making three passes in both races to qualify for finals and then claim bronze. In finals, he hit a jump and landed using only one ski, clipped a gate with his shoulder, and spent most of the race in fifth behind a tight pack of skiers.
He said one of his advantages in ski cross racing is patience.
“I’m good in the air and on the rollers and just being comfortable skiing in a pack of 5 or 6 guys,” he said. “Being patient when you need to and ready to make a move when the time presents itself.”
Del Bosco shares dual citizenship with the U.S. and Canada and races for Canada. With his teammate, Leman, claiming gold, and Canadians Kelsey Serwa and Marielle Thompson taking first and second in the women’s skier cross competition Saturday, Canada claimed four of the six podium spots in what was the first ski cross competition at X Games in four years.