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Eagle-Vail’s own Chris Del Bosco finished fifth in a World Cup ski cross race in Val Thorens, France, on Friday, and first in a wind-shortened race on Thursday to give himself “a great chance of joining” the Canadian freestyle team for a shot at Olympic redemption.
John Teller, of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., won the race on Friday and clinched a spot on the Olympic team heading in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Feb. 7-23. It was the best U.S. result of the season after Teller placed 11th in a race in Val Thorens in December.
“I have had a tough year so far but am beyond happy to start the middle of my season this way,” Teller said. “I feel that I have just hit my stride and am ramping up for February.”
Olympic qualification is based on a points system across the different freestyle disciplines, including ski cross, and several other World Cup events are taking place in the next few days that could affect rankings before the window shuts on Jan. 19.
Del Bosco, who grew up in the Vail Valley but has dual citizenship because of his father and therefore races for Canada, now faces an anxious wait to learn whether he’s done enough to punch his ticket to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“I knew I had to step it up,” said Del Bosco, who now lives in Montreal. “I felt a lot of pressure that helped get me to the next level. I haven’t felt this good in a start gate in a long time. I couldn’t really be any happier. I did pretty much everything I could.”
Del Bosco famously finished fourth in ski cross at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics when he crashed while going for gold. He went into the first of two crucial back-to-back races Thursday needing a podium to punch his ticket to the Sochi Games after a challenging start to his 2013-14 campaign.
“Nothing has changed since 2010 in how I approach each race,” said Del Bosco, 31. “If I’m (in Sochi) I’m definitely going to be giving it 100 percent. I’m not going to settle for anything less.”
Del Bosco is the 2011 world champion in ski cross and also an X Games gold medalist in the event.
“It was getting down to crunch time and I knew what I needed to do. I needed to podium,” Del Bosco said Thursday. “Sochi qualification is kind of a grey area. I don’t really know how that works.”
Del Bosco, historically a slow starter, had only recorded a 15th-place finish in Innichen-San Candido, Italy, prior to Thursday. He was second in the test event in Sochi, Russia, last season, so in theory just needed a podium to qualify for the 2014 Games.
“This year started kind of rough for me. I knew if I just kept digging it would happen,” Del Bosco said. “I had a good day of qualifying [Wednesday] and followed it up [Thursday] with some strong skiing.”
“Del (Bosco) has had some pressure on him here – he knows the situation he’s in,” said Eric Archer, Canada’s head coach and a former Vail Valley resident. “He hasn’t had great results this year but he’s been very focused this week and had two very good qualifying runs. He won his heat by a long ways.”