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Del Bosco, Serwa to lead Canada's ski cross team at Sochi

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The Canadian Press
1/27/2014 2:40:42 PM
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VANCOUVER -- Chris Del Bosco still wouldn't change a thing.

The Canadian skicross racer appeared to have the bronze medal locked up in the men's final at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, only to wipe out while trying to make a pass in the biggest moment of his career.

Del Bosco made no apologies after that race, and is relishing his shot at redemption four years later.

"I'm known for some passes last minute ... most of the time it works out for me and on that day it didn't work out," said the 31-year-old Montreal resident. "I raced 100 per cent and that's how I do. I'm not going to hold back and say 'OK here, we got this (bronze) locked up. Might as well just chill out.'

"I knew there was an opportunity for improvement and I took it. If I had to do it again I would do the same thing, just hope for a little different outcome."

Del Bosco was among six athletes named Monday to a strong Canadian skicross team for next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"I never put third place or second place on a goal sheet," said Del Bosco. "I have pretty high expectations and I've proven in the past I can make things happen when I need to."

In fact, the entire Canadian skicross contingent -- which has a goal of earning medals in both the men's and women's races -- has shown an ability to make things happen.

Joining Del Bosco on the team are Dave Duncan of London, Ont., Calgary's Brady Leman, Kelsey Serwa of Kelowna, B.C., Marielle Thompson of Whistler, B.C., and Georgia Simmerling of West Vancouver, B.C.

The 24-year-old Serwa, who finished fifth in Vancouver behind Canadian gold medallist Ashleigh McIvor, said the competition to even make the team is fierce.

"We push each other. I don't think our team would be as good if we didn't have ... motivation to really improve," said Serwa, won the world championship and X Games gold medal back in 2011. "We work really well together and I think that's really to our advantage."

Serwa will be joined in the women's competition by the 21-year-old Thompson, the current World Cup leader, and the 24-year-old Simmerling, who suited up for Canada in alpine skiing at the 2010 Games.

"It's really inspiring to look beside me and see the other two girls on my team, and the men too," said Serwa. "Everyone is just so dominant and so strong.

"It's really cool to have the progression of watching where we came from and where we are now."

On the men's side, the 31-year-old Duncan picked up his first two World Cup victories in December, while the 27-year-old Leman has five career World Cup podiums to his name.

Leman -- who along with Duncan missed out on the sport's Olympic debut in Vancouver because of injury -- is excited to get his first experience at a Games.

"I'm super proud and a little bit relieved," said Leman. "The way the last couple seasons have gone for me, I've felt like I belong at the Olympics.

"The Canadian freestyle team is just such a difficult team to make. We're so deep across all the disciplines."

That talent, coupled with a sluggish start to the season, almost cost Del Bosco a spot in Sochi. The international ski federation allocates up to 26 spots for each country for all five freestyle disciplines.

Del Bosco won the 2011 world championship and has two X Games gold medals to his name, but needed one podium finish in his final two races to make the Canadian team. The first event in France was cancelled due to weather, but he was still awarded top spot on the basis of his qualification time and his victory in his heat. Del Bosco then followed that up with a fifth-place finish the following day.

"It was stressful, more after the fact knowing that I had put a good qualifier in," Del Bosco said of the cancelled race. "I was skiing really well and then it was called -- something completely out of my control.

"I had faith that I put in all the work and I did everything I could on that day."

McIvor, who attended Monday's announcement, said Canadians can expect Del Bosco to make the same move he did in Vancouver if the skier finds himself running third in the Sochi final.

"I think you can depend on Chris to always give it his all and not settle for anything less than what he truly wants," said the 30-year-old McIvor, who retired in 2012 after a knee injury. "He's definitely an all-or-nothing guy.

"You have to be the most aggressive out there. What separates the good skicross athletes from the others is those who have that natural instinct to make good decisions under pressure and just keep on pushing."

Chris Del Bosco (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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