Del Bosco’s back; wins ski cross opener in Austria | VailDaily.com

Del Bosco’s back; wins ski cross opener in Austria

The Canadian Ski Racing Awards are underway, and you can help by voting for Eagle-Vail's Chris Del Bosco. Just go to http://acaawards.org/athlete, click on the "ski cross" tab and vote early and often for Del Bosco.
Pentaphoto | Daily file photo |

MONTAFON, Austria — There’s another local racer winning races and, with no disrespect to her, it ain’t Lindsey Vonn.

Welcome back, Chris Del Bosco.

The Eagle-Vail resident, with dual Canadian-American citizenship, won the World Cup ski cross opener on Saturday in Montafon, Austria, for his first win since Jan. 16, 2014.

“It feels really good,” said Del Bosco, who races for Canada. “I put in a lot of work in this summer. I was close last year, but nothing was clicking. I tried to change up my training this summer. I’m pretty happy to get something right away.”

This is Del Bosco’s sixth World Cup win in addition to gold at the 2011 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships and two wins at X Games in Aspen.

Meet Jake Wurth

The ironic thing about Del Bosco’s absence from the podium for nearly two years is that it wasn’t he wasn’t battling injuries, surprising for a sport that seems to be a boon for any orthopedic surgeon.

Del Bosco said he’s been “relatively” healthy the last few years and felt 100 percent to start the season. The difference, Del Bosco said, was a rejiggered training approach.

Enter Jake Wurth of Ski & Snowboard Club Vail.

“I’ve worked with those guys in the past and Jake put together a program for me,” Del Bosco said. ”Then, I got back on my bike and rode a ton. That’s a piece that’s been missing. I hadn’t been doing that for the last few years. That’s important for the mental aspect, having my mind at speed, acting and reacting.”

In a previous phase of Del Bosco’s career, he was a junior national champion in mountain biking in addition to his exploits on the slopes. After he moved to ski cross, Del Bosco continued biking as a form of training, including qualifying for the 2011 World Championships in Switzerland.

As well as being in the saddle, Del Bosco worked with Wurth. The focus was less on heavy weightlifting and more on speed and agility — plyometrics and single- and double-leg coordination exercises.

“It was a whole different thing,” Del Bosco said. “I’m sure Jake would be happy.”

Running fast

For those not familiar with ski cross, it’s a two-part event. Racers run qualifying runs on Day 1, which, in this case, was Friday, with the top-32 racers earning a spot in Saturday’s knockout tournament of four rounds.

Del Bosco easily qualified in sixth place on Friday.

“I made a couple of mistakes in my qualifying run,” Del Bosco said. “To have a couple of mistakes and still be fast is a good sign.”

Del Bosco finished second out of a field of four — the top two from each round advance — and then started rolling, winning his quarterfinal and semifinal runs. That set him up in the final with friend, rival, teammate and No. 1 seed Brady Leman.

Del Bosco got the ever-critical hole shot, or lead out of the start.

“I knew I needed a good start,” Del Bosco said. “Brady always has good starts. The course had a lot of drops. There were a lot of places where you had to pull it. I knew Brady was going to be there. He pulled up near me toward the end. We were just drag-racing and I had just enough.”

And, with that, Del Bosco is the World Cup leader in ski cross — albeit after one race, but it’s nice to have points in the bank, particularly with four more races before Christmas.

The ski cross tour returns to Val Thorens, France, the site of his last win in 2014, for two races next week and then goes to Innichen, Italy, two weekends from now.

“It’s huge,” Del Bosco said of his win to start the season. “It’s just validation that all the work paid off. The speed is there. I had some good races today, and I’m excited for the next of it.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.