Lewen wins second skiercross gold
Summit Daily News
While everyone in the world of skiercross talks about Casey Puckett and the Crist brothers, Lars Lewen quietly goes about his business.
His smaller frame and out-of-the-way hometown (Stockholm, Sweden) don’t hurt his contender status, but he is rarely considered a favorite. Who knows why.
After winning his second Winter X Games gold medal in four years Sunday, it figures Lewen’s profile should change by next year.
The Swede used one of his trademark fast starts, then held off a hard-charging Reggie Crist near the end of a powder-slowed course at Buttermilk to win his third Winter X medal. Lewen took silver in 2004 after winning gold in 2003 (ahead of Crist’s silver).
He missed the final last year, but earned a slice of redemption on Sunday.
“I just tried to stay focused and do the job I have to do,” said Lewen, who earned his stripes as a four-discipline alpine racer on the Europa Cup.
Doing that job meant relegating Reggie Crist to silver, one spot back of where the two-time champ finished a year ago. For Crist, however, a runner-up finish was worthy of celebration this time.
The 37-year-old has trained on racing skis just five times all season, and has been sidelined of late with a deep bone bruise he suffered when he landed on a rock while freeskiing. The injury was bad enough that he didn’t think he would be able to compete going into this week.
“A lot of people are saying, ‘Oh, you must be disappointed because you won last year and got second this year,'” the Sun Valley, Idaho, resident said. “But to be honest with you, this is a great feeling, primarily because of what I’ve been doing the last month, which is sitting on my couch, riding a (stationary) bike and watching all my friends ski powder.”
The surprise of the day ” perhaps the surprise of the games thus far ” came when Vail upstart Chris Del Bosco outskied Tomas Kraus (reigning world champion), Zach Crist (2001 X Games champ) and Puckett (four-time Olympian and 2004 X Games champ) to win bronze.
Del Bosco was not initially invited to the X Games, but secured a berth at the last qualifying event two weeks ago. Sunday he competed against a field full of ex-World Cup racers; in contrast, the highest level Del Bosco reached during his career with Ski Club Vail was the NorAm Cup.
Del Bosco, the youngest competitor in the field at 23, was also one of the only guys in the field without a ski sponsor Sunday.
Less than a minute removed from crossing the line for bronze, an Atomic representative handed him a pair of boards and a business card.
“We’ll probably be talking to a few different companies after this,” Del Bosco said, grinning.
Kraus, who hails from the Czech Republic, finished fourth, while Zach Crist (fifth) and Puckett (sixth) made up the rest of the six-man final.
The result was especially disappointing for Puckett, the hometown favorite who qualified first among 30 skiers on Friday. He later said poor wax contributed to Sunday’s showing.
Frisco’s Jake Fiala fell when he was clipped by another racer in his quarterfinal heat and failed to advance.
Devon O’Neil can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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