Xcellent: Eagle-Vail’s Del Bosco golden in Aspen | VailDaily.com

Xcellent: Eagle-Vail’s Del Bosco golden in Aspen

Chris Del Bosco, of Vail, Colo., who is also a Canadian citizen, holds a Canadian flag after winning the skier X finals at the Winter X Games at Buttermilk Mountain outside Aspen, Colo., on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

ASPEN – Skicross racer Chris Del Bosco of Eagle-Vail can check another item off his list.

The racer, who will represent the Canada at this month’s Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, lead a Great White North sweep of the men’s skicross finals at the Winter X Games Sunday in Aspen.

“This was one of the things I had on my list, but I haven’t been able to do it,” Del Bosco said. “To get it done, it all came together today.”

The Eh Team, aka the Canada Skicross Team, had four of the six racers in the final, and Del Bosco led the way in 1 minute, 26.09 seconds, followed by teammates Dave Duncan, (1:26.57) and Brady Leman (1:26,63.)

The last time the Canadian men swept the podium at a major event – the X Games doesn’t go down as a World Cup event, but is huge in the sport- was Feb. 6, 2009, at Cypress Mountain, British Columbia. That was Del Bosco’s first World Cup win and it’s also the venue for Olympic skicross on Feb. 21.

“This course is pretty familiar to me, and it’s really similar in the twists and the jumps to Vancouver,” Del Bosco said. “I’ve got some confidence heading up there.

On a roll

Del Bosco is an understated guy and that is a serious understatement. Sunday’s X Games win was his third in his last four starts. He won in Alpe d’Huez, France, on Jan. 13, was 11th in Blue Mountain, Ontario, Jan. 20, and was golden again in Lake Placid, N.Y. Jan. 24.

Again, there were no World Cup points to be had in Aspen, but the X Games are just a part of Del Bosco’s steady success the last two seasons. Del Bosco finished second in World Cup skicross points last season and is No. 3 this year.

And Del Bosco was the model of consistency this week. He had the fastest time in qualifying Friday. Not only did he win all three of his individual heats Sunday, but he had the lowest time among all racers in each run.

“I’m skiing well,” Del Bosco said. “I kind of got the hole shot (getting out in front of the pack) in every heat and I didn’t look back. I didn’t know I was going to pull it out wire-to-wire. My skis were fast. I was skiing well. Today was my day.”

Del Bosco burst out of the gate with the lead. Duncan appeared to tighten the gap during the lower part of the course, but Del Bosco used his big body to carry his speed and block any possibility of being passed.

While Del Bosco, Duncan, Leman and Davey Barr (fifth place) are teammates, this is an individual sport.

“It seems like in the big shows, we come out and like to prove to everybody that we’re the top nation in skicross,” Del Bosco said. “Hopefully, we’ll do more of the same later this month.”

Del Bosco’s previous best at Aspen was bronze in 2006. The next year, he crashed, blowing out his knee at the X Games. He hadn’t made the finals the last two years, so Sunday was sweet.

It was also important to Del Bosco to compete in the X Games, despite the fact that the Olympic skicross event is just three weeks away. There was some talk this week, only heightened when well-known skicrossers like Casey Puckett (shoulder) and Daron Rahlves (hip) sustained injuries at the X Games, that competing in Aspen didn’t make much sense with the Olympics so near.

“The X Games has kind of been the one solid event we could count on in skicross,” Del Bosco said. “They do a good job and they have supported our sport. My teammates and I felt that it was important to support an event which put our sport on the map.”

Down time

With the X Games done and the World Cup halted because of the impending Olympics, Del Bosco actually gets to come home to Eagle-Vail for a little bit, which is a nice novelty for the 27-year-old.

So far this year he’s logged a lot of miles, hopping from Italy to Austria to France to the relatively nearby tour stops in Ontario and New York recently before this week’s competition in Aspen.

“I don’t know,” Del Bosco said when asked how many miles he’s logged this year. “I’ve been going pretty much non-stop until I got here (Aspen). I had a couple of days off around Christmas, but I stayed in Europe.”

Del Bosco is looking forward to spending a little time regrouping and getting some days in the gym before heading to Canada.

And it is doubtless Del Bosco’s wish to check off another item from his list there.

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

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