Del Bosco high on life, ski cross and Canada

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In years past, when Christopher Del Bosco's eyes glazed up, it was a major cause for concern.

A former alcohol and marijuana abuser, Del Bosco's addictions cost him a spot on the U.S. alpine ski team, and very nearly his life.

The Vail, Colo., native's eyes glazed up again this week in Vancouver, though not because of drugs or booze, but because the emotions of competing for the Canadian team on Canadian soil were almost too much for the big, tough ski cross racer to handle.

"I was a little concerned when I came up and joined the Canadian team (in 2007) that the people here wouldn't accept me and that I would be an outcast," said Del Bosco, pausing briefly to collect himself. "But everyone has supported me and I have never felt more Canadian."

His story is certainly an inspirational one, and could get even better at these Games.

Del Bosco was born and raised in the Colorado ski resort town of Vail, and demonstrated from an early age a tremendous natural athletic ability. Before the age of three he was already booting around on skis, skates and mountain bikes.

Sadly, as he approached his early teens, he embraced the party aspect of ski racing and began smoking pot and drinking heavily, resulting in his being stripped of national junior titles in both alpine skiing and mountain biking following positive drug tests. He also got nailed with a couple of charges for impaired driving and, at the age of 17, was kicked off the American development alpine squad.

Del Bosco completely hit the skids in December 2004 after he was found passed out in a frozen creek bed with a broken neck, the result of a drinking binge. He needed six rods and screws to fuse his C4-C5 vertebrae back together.

But his life turned for the better in 2005 when his sister checked him into a rehab clinic and he emerged 90 days later clean and sober. After stumbling a couple of times, Del Bosco joined Alcoholics Anonymous in September 2006 and a short while later gave up smoking pot.

But that's just part of his story.

In 2007, Canadian ski cross team CEO Cam Bailey and racer Brian Bennett were sitting in a Whistler restaurant discussing possible skiers they could recruit for the national team, with ski cross beginning to grow in stature and set to become an Olympic event in 2010. Their waitress asked Bennett how he had injured his arm (it was in a sling) and he replied that it happened while ski cross racing. The waitress then said: "Oh, my cousin does that."

Her cousin was Chris Del Bosco.

Del Bosco was well known in ski circles, having won a bronze medal at the 2006 X-Games, and when it was discovered that he also had Canadian citizenship, the recruitment began. Now, the 27-year-old is the second ranked male ski cross racer in the world and, along with pretty well everyone else on the Canadian team, a favourite to win a medal at these Vancouver Olympics.

His father, Armando, is a Sudbury native who played Junior A hockey in Ontario and Quebec before accepting a scholarship at the University of Denver. He later met his future wife Pamela and settled in the U.S. and raised four kids, including the youngest, Chris.

Del Bosco is a Vail boy through and through, but grew up being reminded of his Canadian heritage.

"That's always been a part of me," he said.


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