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Vail Valley’s Del Bosco, Gulini off to Vancouver

Canada's Christopher Delbosco, front, leads Egor Korotkov, left, of Russia, and and Daron Rahlves in a semifinal skicross heat during World Cup freestyle skiing in Wilmington, N.Y., on Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
AP | AP

VAIL – The Vail Valley will be well-represented in the 2010 Winter Olympics on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border.

Eagle-Vail’s Chris Del Bosco, 27, a dual citizen, who essentially iced his Olympic invitation with a skicross gold in Wilmington, N.Y., Sunday, was officially named to the Canadian Freestyle Team, while Gypsum’s Faye Gulini, 17, made the U.S. Snowboard Team in snowboardcross. Both announcements came Monday.

“It’s been a goal since I was little, 5-years-old on skis, to be an Olympic champion,” Del Bosco said. “I’ve taken a little bit of a different path to get there. I’m part way there to it. We’ll see in a couple of weeks.”

“I don’t know,” Gulini said. “I guess I believe it, so I guess it’s true. I worked really hard.”

The snowboardcross event for Gulini is Feb. 16, while men’s skicross is Feb. 21 for Del Bosco. For both, it is their first Olympic selection and both hail from Ski and Snowboard Club Vail.

The Eh Team

Del Bosco grew up here and took to skiing instantly, not mention hockey and mountain biking. However, he developed a self-destructive pattern of behavior by abusing alcohol and drugs begining in his mid-teens.

As his multi-sport career developed, he lwas stripped a junior national championship in alpine skiing and another national title in mountain biking because of his troubles. With his relationship with the U.S. Ski Team severed, Del Bosco turned to the new sport of skicross.

He won a bronze in the 2006 X Games, but could not shake his addictions, despite a stint in a rehabilitation center in Southern California. Two DUIs and 10 days of jail later in 2006, Del Bosco finally called it quits and started building his sobriety.

In a nice case of serendipity, at just about this time in Del Bosco’s life, Team Canada – Chris’ father, Del, is Canadian, thus the dual-citizenship – was building a skicross squad and Del Bosco got a fresh start.

He has become one of the sport’s best athletes on “The Eh Team,” the nickname for Canada’s skicrossers. He was the model of consistency in sport known for its inconsistency, finishing with nine top-10s in 10 World Cup starts last season. He finished the year ranked No. 2 in the world. That’s was, by no means, a fluke. He’s No. 3 this year after a slow start to the season.

Last season also saw him get his first World Cup win – he now has three -at Cypress Mountain, British Columbia, which will be the site of the skicross competition next month.

“Yeah, I’d definitely like to have a little more of the same,” Del Bosco said. “Time will tell.”

Just before his first World Cup win, Del Bosco went public with his past in the hope that he could get all of it out in the open and focus on skiing. Yet at the same time, it is a compelling story which has attracted every media outlet from the Canadian Broadcasting Company to USA Today.

“I’ve done most of the interviews,” Del Bosco said. “We’re going to have some different ways of approaching the media as we get closer to the Olympics, limited access. I want to focus on racing. When it comes up, I do the same thing I always do, tell my story. I don’t know how many ways there are to write it in stories.”

A high school friend

Gulini’s been to the Winter Olympics before. When she was 9 and her family lived in Salt Lake City, she was actually one of the many ice skaters involved in the “Child of Light” segment of the 2002 Opening Ceremonies.

“This is actually her second Olympics,” her father, David, joked.

David took his youngest daughter, Faye, to some of the events in 2002, recalling that “she spent half her time rolling around in the snow.”

Eight years later, Gulini is off to Vancouver as a snowboardcross racer – and by the way – she is the first SSCV snowboarder to make the Games.

Gulini started skiing when she was 3 and shifted over to snowboarding. She competed for the Snowbird Snowboard Club through her freshman year of high school, when the demands of competition and academics became a problem.

As it turned out SSCV was just opening its Vail Ski and Snowboarding Academy, a public high school for aspiring athletes. Also quite helpful was the fact that David and Mike Woods of Gypsum went to high school together back in upstate New York.

Faye ended up moving in with Mike and Kim Woods and their sons, Chris and Sean, who both superb skiers in Nordic, and started attending the Ski and Snowboard Academy.

“If it wasn’t for that program, she wouldn’t be here,” David said. “It was hard for us as a family just to afford the (Snowbird) Club. The only other way to get that kind of education to allow her to compete was private school, which is very expensive.”

Going from a big public school in Utah to a small classroom in Vail was a struggle at first for Gulini.

“What was gigantic was that I was in a classroom with six other kids,” Gulini said. “It was weird at first, but I like it now.”

Gulini originally started with halfpipe and slopestyle because one had to be 15 to compete in a Grand Prix snowboardcross event. But she was instantly drawn to the sport.

“It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s fast,” she said.

And as last season wound down, the U.S. Snowboard Team needed some replacements for World Cup events, and so Gulini was off to Europe. Her start was not auspicious – she got hurt in Spain.

But this winter, she’s been hot. She opened the season with eighth place in Telluride, and had the same result in Bad Gastein, Austria. She’s ranked 13th in the world and is the No. 2 American in the discipline only behind Lindsey Jacobellis (No. 7).

Both Del Bosco and Gulini are off to Aspen for the X Games in their events before heading to Vancouver.

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


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