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Canada grabs skicross gold at U.S. Grand Prix in Park City

By Lynn Debruin

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, Feb. 11 2012 9:51 p.m. MST

PARK CITY — The Canadians made a last-minute decision to compete in the U.S. Grand Prix and it paid off as Chris Del Bosco and Marielle Thompson swept gold in skicross Saturday, and teammate Brady Leman grabbed silver.

"It was awesome," Winter X Games champ Del Bosco said of having three teammates in the four-man final. "I'm glad we came. It was a pretty good day for us."

American Langely McNeal was celebrating her second-place finish in the women's race at Park City's Canyons Resort.

"I'm pretty excited," said McNeal, of Sun Valley, Idaho. "It's a little redemption after X Games."

McNeal thought she had qualified for her first X Games finals a few weeks ago only to be told that she was being disqualified for a clothing infraction. She was wearing a pair of elasticized hair bands around the cuffs of her mother's bell bottom ski pants.

This time she left the bell bottoms and hair bands at home.

She still needed a bit of luck as she watched eventual winner Thompson and Katrin Mueller of Switzerland jockey for position down the tricky course in flat light.

"That was a wild heat," McNeal said. "I was just watching (them) go back and forth, back and forth, and I saw them kind of rubbing elbows, and kind of expected a crash.

"I just tried to stay patient and not do anything stupid and I lucked out."

Thompson said she was lucky also to survive the final.

"I could feel her going into the rollers, then I kind of speed-checked more than she thought and I caught an edge and got pushed off to the left of the hip (jump) and tried to go around," Thompson said. "It's kind of shocking, but I'm happy I came out ahead."

It was Thompson's second consecutive win as she claimed World Cup gold in Ontario earlier in the week.

In the men's races in Ontario, Leman edged Del Bosco for gold. On Saturday, the results were flipped as Del Bosco showed his speed in the middle section after overcoming slow starts in early heats.

"I had to make moves down through the middle section. I think it kind of helped me in the final because I had made some of those passes, so I know I was going pretty fast through there," Del Bosco said.

"The minute I got into second (in the finals), I'm like, 'Oh, I got him.' It was just staying on your feet."

He did, but got a huge hug from Leman afterward.

"Last week Brady won," Del Bosco said. "This time I got him back."

Both were grateful they could push each other.

"Del has been really, really good for an awful long time," Leman said. "I've learned a lot from him the last couple of years. When you get to duel it out with a teammate and friend, it's fun. I would have loved to win today, but if you're gonna lose, you want to lose to a teammate and friend."

After a grueling schedule that had the Canadian team competing in the X Games, back in Canada then at the U.S. Grand Prix, a little R & R was in order.

"We're definitely tired and ready to head home and hibernate for a week until the next set of World Cups," Leman said.

Armin Niederer of Switzerland took third place for the men.

Top American hopeful John Teller crashed in the semis. Joe Swensson instead was the top U.S. finisher in sixth place.

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