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Canadians win at freestyle worlds

2/5/2011

PARK CITY, Utah -- Canadian ski cross racers Christopher Del Bosco and Kelsey Serwa shared a common agenda. Both were looking for breakthrough victories to redeem themselves for disappointing finishes and injury setbacks.

Both got their wish on Friday.

Del Bosco and Serwa helped Canada enjoy a big day at the Freestyle World Ski Championships by winning gold medals and securing world championships in ski cross for their native country.

Del Bosco earned the No. 1 seed in qualifying and finished first in three of the four rounds he raced in to claim the men's ski cross title. Finland's Jouni Pellinen finished second and Austria's Andreas Matt took third to claim the final podium spot.

For Del Bosco, it was nice turnaround after enduring a series of fourth-place finishes, including at last year's Vancouver Games when a crash on the final jump took him out of the running for a bronze medal.

"I was wondering about these big events and if I could get it done," said Del Bosco, who managed to improve on his silver-medal finish at this year's Winter X Games.

Del Bosco worked hard to stay low on jumps and get off to good starts so he could stay within striking distance of each competitor.

It worked to perfection. Del Bosco made it tough for any racer to overtake him once he got out in front -- especially in his gold-medal run. Del Bosco thought he had doomed his chances after a less-than-stellar start on the final heat.

"My first strategy was to get the whole shot and I ended up second," Del Bosco said. "Andy got out really quick. But I knew if I just stayed tight, maybe something would open up down there. He kind of left a little room on one of the turns. I just took a direct line and pulled it out near the finish."

Serwa completed the sweep after taking advantage of the top three seeds losing in earlier rounds, including Germany's Heidi Zacher -- who came into Deer Valley ranked No. 1 in the world. Fellow Canadian Jaime Murray finished second to give Canada a third podium spot in ski cross and Swedish skier Anna Holmlund took third.

For Serwa, getting the win was a big deal especially since she could not even get out of bed two days ago. The 21 year-old skier crashed badly in her gold-medal winning race at the Winter X Games and had worked with a physical therapist four hours a day just to get to her bruised body moving normally.

Serwa was still dealing with a bruised tailbone, a sprained thumb and injured ribs. None of those things slowed her down once she got on the course at Deer Valley.

"Once I started racing, the adrenalin was there," Serwa said. "The pain -- I could barely feel it. It wasn't until the bottom that I was like, 'Oh yeah, I'm injured.' A lot of us, we race injured and we learn how to deal with the pain."

For Serwa, it was a huge deal to claim victory in both major ski cross events in 2011. It fulfills her vision where she hoped to be when she transitioned from alpine racing three years ago.

"I had two goals coming into this season: One was to win X Games and the next was to win the world championships," Serwa said. "So I'm pretty happy right now. I achieved both of them. And I'm a little sore, but our bodies recover and it's all good."

John Teller was the lone U.S. racer competing in either ski cross final. A week after claiming a gold medal at the Winter X Games, Teller finished fifth overall after winning the men's small final.

"I definitely had some goals coming into the season and they were pretty high goals," Teller said. "I'd say I achieved them. I didn't really expect it, you know, but you got to shoot for the moon."

A pair of Chinese skiers dominated the women's aerials final Friday night. Cheng Shuang scored 188.40 to finish first and Xu Mengtao grabbed the silver, just .17 back. Ukrainian skier Olga Volkova took the bronze.

Ashley Caldwell posted the best finish among U.S. competitors. Caldwell took fourth after totaling 173.73 on her two jumps.

Emily Cook, the top qualifier, dropped to a disappointing seventh-place finish after fouling up a landing on her second jump and compiling a total score of 159.15.

Cook wasn't able to build on her strong qualifying performance after landing on her back following a flip during her second jump of the night.

"I just made a little bit of a mistake on that second flip," the five-time U.S. Aerials champion said.

Canadian skier Warren Shouldace was a surprise winner in the mens' aerials final. China's Qi Guangpu finished second and Belarus skier Anton Kushnir took the bronze.