Del Bosco qualifies for mountain bike World Cup races

Ski cross world champion Chris Del Bosco is returning to the World Cup circuit – in the sport of mountain biking.

Del Bosco, who lives in Montreal, Que., is a former U.S. downhill mountain biking champion but he hasn’t raced bikes competitively since 2006.

The Winter X Games silver medallist got back into the sport at the end of the 2010-11 ski season and some impressive early results at a series of races held across North America have earned him the chance to represent Canada on two wheels.

If he performs well at World Cup races in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que., and Windham, New York, next month, Del Bosco hopes to qualify for the world championships, which will be held in Switzerland in August.

“It was definitely one of my goals to get to the World Cup and I’m really enjoying biking right now,” said Del Bosco, 29. “I’ve been competitive with the top guys in North America but the World Cup is a different ball game.

“I’ve got a couple more weeks to get the bike fitness back – it’s totally different to skiing – and I think I will be in pretty good shape to do well. I’m right where I hoped I would be and maybe a little bit ahead.”

Del Bosco was born in Colorado Springs in the USA and became a professional mountain biker at the age of 18. He won the U.S. downhill mountain biking championship four years later but was stripped of his title after failing a drugs test. He has been clean for five years this coming September.

A dual citizen, Del Bosco was invited to join the Canadian ski cross team in 2007 and hasn’t looked back. He’s been a dominant force in the sport of ski cross and famously finished fourth at the 2010 Olympic Games after going for gold when he could have settled for bronze.

The only prize Del Bosco hasn’t won on the ski cross World Cup circuit is the overall title, having been the runner-up the past three years. He’s hoping a summer spent racing mountain bikes could take him to the next level when he returns to competitive skiing in the fall.

“I think it’s something that enhances my skiing,” said Del Bosco of mountain biking. “The last three years, I’ve been second overall in ski cross but maybe something has been missing. Biking is a big reason why I do well in skiing so I figured I would try this and see how things work out.”

DelBosco, who rides for Cove Bikes, finished 14th in the downhill at the U.S. Open at the end of May, a week after finishing eighth at a Canada Cup race in Quebec. He has a couple more races in the Montreal area in the next few weeks before his first World Cup race in Mont-Sainte-Anne on July 2. The following weekend, he’ll take in a World Cup race in Windham.

“Chris has met the performance indicators in the early Canada Cup season, which has been the basis for national coach, Dan Proulx, to select him to compete at the two World Cups in North America,” said Greg Mathieu, chief executive officer of the Canadian Cycling Association.

“This will give him the opportunity to earn UCI (International Cycling Union) points and the opportunity for selection to the national team competing in the world championships in Champéry, Switzerland, in late August.”