Freestyle Skiing

Kate Pettersen - Wednesday Feb. 19, 2014 22:43 ET

Canadians trying for redemption in men’s ski cross

Chris Del Bosco, Brady Leman, Dave Duncan had rough ride in 2010

David Duncan
David Duncan (AP/Alessandro Trovati)

The Canadian men’s ski cross team will be looking for redemption when they pull out of the start gate in Sochi on Thursday. Their story at the 2010 Games was overshadowed by injuries and heartbreak when the event made its Olympic debut.

Chris Del Bosco of Montreal, Que., made history in Vancouver, but not for the reasons he hoped. Del Bosco refused to settle for bronze and made a risky pass approaching the finish line in the final. He crashed, and finished just off the podium in fourth.

“I mean it was just one of those races and it didn’t work out that time,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of passes last minute and it’s worked out. It just didn’t work out that day.”

Del Bosco, 31, competed first as an alpine skier before joining the Canadian ski cross team in 2007. He has 18 World Cup podiums to his name and was crowned World Champion in 2011.

"All three of us on the men’s team are heading into Sochi looking for redemption," said Del Bosco. "We all feel like we have a second chance.”

You’re in, you’re out

For Brady Leman of Calgary, Alta., his campaign at the Vancouver Olympics was nothing short of disappointing.

Leman, 27, came so close to competing before injuring himself the day before his race. Nearly four years later, Leman says he’s mentally and physically stronger, and also looking for redemption.

Leman was the first alternate on the men’s ski cross team when the event made its debut at the 2010 Olympics. It was a remarkable achievement for the Calgary native, who had broken his right tibula in the final race of the previous season.

Two days before his Olympic event, his teammate Dave Duncan crashed. Leman got the call to take his place.

“I think overcoming something like that, especially something that was the worst case scenario, not only having an injury at the Olympics but having one before a home Olympics and being able to come back successfully from that, has made me a lot stronger mentally and physically as an athlete. I’m not afraid of failing anymore,” said Leman.

“I’ve had enough crashes now, hard landings and icy turns that now I really don’t think about it at all.”

This season, Leman posted consistent results, winning two bronze medals in December in Nakiska, Alta., and Innichen, Italy.

“Winning a medal at the Olympics has been a dream since I was a little kid,” said Leman. “I know that if I ski my best in Russia, my best is the best in the world right now.”

Motivated by crash ending

Dave Duncan of London, Ont., has been battling injuries since joining the Canadian ski cross team in 2007.

At the Vancouver Games, Duncan crashed in training breaking his collar bone and was forced to withdraw from competition.

"Getting injured at your first Olympics, it's not the way you envision it as a kid, or even the week before,” said Duncan.

The 31-year-old has had a breakout season this year, winning back-to-back races in Innichen, Italy, in December. The wins marked the first and second of his career and he heads to Sochi sitting second in the overall world cup standings.

“I don’t think anyone goes into the Olympics saying I hope for a top 10 or I hope for a top five,” he said. “Everyone is going there to win. It gives me more confidence to know that I’m peaking at the right time. Right now things are going well and I am a force to be reckoned with.”

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