Chris Del Bosco is an all or nothing kind of guy.
He could have won a bronze medal at the Vancouver Olympics in ski cross but he didn’t want to be third. He wanted more. So he went for a risky pass, wiped out and finished just off the podium in fourth.
That Olympic performance is at the front of his mind as he prepares for his next one in February in Sochi, Russia. But, he says, he has no regrets.
“I race to win – everything,” said the 31-year-old who lives in Montreal. “The only thing I would have changed is I would have tried to get around the guy in the second turn.”
With the 2014 Olympics only seven months away, amateur winter athletes are heading into their time in the sun, as sports that are often overlooked will get increasing attention as the Games draw near.
Del Bosco and six other athletes will get even more attention than most. Starting in September, they will be the face of the Olympics in a series of Sport Chek and adidas commercials announced Tuesday along with a new line of high-performance clothing.idney Crosby’s goalie sister dreams of the Olympics
For the next four years, adidas will provide training clothing and shoes to Canada’s Olympic and Pan Am Games teams. The Hudson’s Bay Company will continue to provide the causal wear that Canadian Olympians wear on the podium and in the opening and closing ceremonies.
The other athletes in the campaign are alpine skier Erik Guay, short track speed skater Charles Hamelin, bobsled pilot Kaillie Humphries, hockey playerMeaghan Mikkelson, skeleton racer Jon Montgomery and snowboarder Maelle Ricker. Each is an Olympic veteran and all but two, Del Bosco and Guay, won gold medals in Vancouver.
“It’s an amazing honour to be a part of this deal. There are only seven of us named and to be included in that elite group just gives validation to all the hard work that I put in,” said Del Bosco.
“The goal is to showcase what it takes for us to become who we are as elite athletes and hopefully inspire the next generation.”
So what does it take?
“So many things,” Del Bosco said. “What I always go back to is the stuff that was ground in as a young kid. My dad was a hockey player and he always told me ‘train like there is always someone better than you out there.’ So you never settle … you’re always moving and looking ahead and trying to improve and trying to become better and better.”
Success at the highest level of sport also takes the ability to comeback from failure, disappointment and injury. Del Bosco has a fair bit of experience with all those, too.
As a teenager, Del Bosco, a dual citizen, was an alpine racer for the United States. At nationals, when he was 17, he tested positive for marijuana and received a two-year suspension.
“I was a random pick – two days in a row,” he said of the drug test.
That, seemingly, was the end of his Olympic dream and his partying lifestyle went into overdrive.
Then Del Bosco decided to change.
“I could keep on doing what I was doing and who knows how long it was going to be or take the other path and get my life straight,” he said.
That’s when the Canadian ski cross team came calling with their pitch.
“We’re going to win medals do you want to be part of it?” he recalls being asked.
“A lot of times you don’t get second chances, I want to make the most of it.”
Del Bosco won X-Game gold medals in 2010 and 2012 and the world championship in 2011. But it hasn’t been easy. There was the disappointment in Vancouver to content with and a few injuries, including a serious one in November 2012, at the very start of season when he tore his shoulder rotator cuff, requiring surgery and months off the snow.
“Sometimes you learn more about yourself from those tough times, it just makes you stronger,” he said.
Time off the whirlwind schedule of training and World Cup events all over the world gives Del Bosco time to think about why he’s doing all this and remember just how much he wants to win.
He returned to training on snow just five days before the World Cup in Sochi in February. True to his word that he gets better after an injury, he won a silver medal there on the future Olympic course.
“In Vancouver I put myself in a position in the final and laid in all on the line. That’s what it takes,” he said of his last Olympic race. “Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. So hopefully I’ll be in the same position (in Sochi, with) just a different outcome.”