Canada's Del Bosco falls in skicross final
On the final jump of the men's inaugural Olympic skicross final, Canada's Chris Del Bosco went for it.
With an apparent bronze in the bag at Cypress Mountain on Sunday, he tried to catch Switzerland's Michael Schmid and Andreas Matt of Austria.
Bosco went into a jump near the finish line awkwardly, twisting in the air and falling hard on his side. As Schmid skied on to gold, and Matt took the silver, Del Bosco was crumpled in the snow.
Norway's Audon Groenvold skied by to take the bronze.
"I wasn't content," Del Bosco said, fighting back tears nearly an hour after the race.
"Third [place], I guess it's all right for some people," he said. "But I wanted to give 100 per cent for my sport and my country."
It was a heartbreaking finish for Del Bosco, whose road to the Olympic Games had so many twists and turns, it's remarkable the 27-year-old had made it there at all.
Story of perseverance
Del Bosco went into the competition ranked third in the World Cup standings, and if they gave out medals for the best back stories, he'd be a lock.
Born and raised in Vail, Colo., Del Bosco was booted off the U.S. alpine developmental team as a teenager after failing a test for marijuana, and continued to battle substance-abuse problems.
A few years ago, an alcohol-induced blackout left him unconscious in a frozen creek bed with a broken neck and dangerously close to hypothermia when a passerby rescued him.
In 2007, after going through rehab and getting clean, he caught on with Canada's skicross team — Del Bosco's father is a Canadian who played hockey at the University of Denver — and agreed to a zero-tolerance policy on drinking and drugs.
Del Bosco reached the World Cup podium four times in 2008-09, including a victory last February on the Olympic track at Cypress Mountain. Canadians swept the podium that day, with Stan Hayer of Kimberley, B.C., and Davey Barr of Vancouver rounding out the medals.
Del Bosco added two more World Cup wins this season.
The second-fastest skier in qualifying, he came from behind in his semifinal heat to finish second and advance to the final.
Barr, a last-minute replacement Sunday because of injuries to Dave Duncan and Brady Leman, was eliminated in the other semifinal. Barr finished second in the small final, placing him sixth overall.
Hayer was knocked out in the quarter-final.
Similar to snowboard cross, the 32 athletes who survive the individual time-trial move on to race in groups of four. The first two skiers to cross the finish line in each heat advance to the next round while the others are eliminated.
Courses are designed with the same kinds of banks, turns, rollers and jumps seen in snowboard cross but skicross athletes reach faster speeds.
Competitors aren't allowed to intentionally make contact with each other but they often jostle for position, raising the possibility of crashes and making for an unpredictable, crowd-pleasing event.
"Of course you can expect a medal, but in this kind of sport anything can happen, and it's not always the most consistent skier out there that wins," Barr told CTV after the final race. "Anything can happen, as you probably saw today."
With files from Jesse Campigotto and Signa Butler