Russ Henshaw- in the spotlight and on the main stage. (Tim Lloyd)
Freeskiing’s Progression Has No Boundaries
The 14th Winter X Games are done and dusted after a huge four days in Aspen, Colorado. In great conditions that included some amazing night time action under a full moon, the skiing performances throughout the event were amazing. Many people reckon freeskiing progressed more in three days than it has in the past 12 months. When you consider the tricks that were thrown during the big air, slopestyle and Superpipe finals it is impossible to not agree.
It was great to see Australia and New Zealand well represented with Jindabyne’s Russell Henshaw and Wanaka’s Jossi Wells making the finals. Unfortunately Mount Buller’s Anna Segal, defending women’s slopestyle champ had to pull out of the event due to a nagging knee injury.
Bobby Brown’s form was amazing – two perfect scores, including a switch, double misty 1440 (John Vandervalk)
Russ Henshaw’s double 1080s pushed him into fourth place, his best result at the X Games (Vandervalk)
TJ Schiller blew the crowd away, stomping at double corked 1620, a never seen before trick which has sent the sports progression into space. (John Vandervalk)
Double Corked 1260s and switch 1080s become passÈ as bar is raised through the roof and beyond.
People ran out of superlatives after the skiing Big Air finals at in the 14th Winter X Games at Aspen on Jan 30. In a display that was immediately called the best display ever in a competition, the five finalists – Bobby Brown, TJ Schiller, Josie Wells, Elias Ambuhl and Australia’s Russ Henshaw raised the bar beyond comprehension. The final was a 20-minute jam session with the riders’ top two scores counting and the skiers had to throw down two different tricks and each was scored out a maximum of 50. The first jumps were tricks that are regarded as stock airs these days – double cork 1260s, switch double 1080s – before Kiwi Jossi Wells stomped a switch double 1440 – the first time that trick had been done in a competition. Russ Henshaw had the crowd screaming with some new double rotations and then Bobby Brown claimed the first perfect 50 of the competition for a perfect switch double misty 1260. He then backed that up with something even better – a switch double misty 1440. The judges had to give him another 50, giving Bobby a first in skiing competition – a perfect score of 100.
You would have thought that was it, but TJ Schiller had other ideas, going for a double cork 1620 which he stomped on his second attempt. This had never been done in competition before and TJ earned a perfect score, which secured second place behind Bobby. Russ was looking good for bronze until young Swiss skier Elias Ambuhl landed a switch double 1440 on the last jump of the night to move ahead of Russ and Jossi by one point. Epic.
Russ Henshaw was on fire until a ski pre-released during a take-off and he bruised his calf badly during the one-ski landing. This slowed the Jindabyne skier down a little, as he nursed the injury in anticipation of the slopestyle finals the next day. There were plenty of ski industry heavyweights amongst the 20,000 spectators, including freeski stars Tanner Hall and Jon Olsson, who were left shaking their heads in awe.
“I can’t put into words what happened here tonight,” said Hall. “Everyone through down tonight harder than we’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen a 1620 in my life and I didn’t think the first one I saw would be double corked with a grab the whole way through and stomp!”
Big Air Final Results:
- Bobby Brown
- TJ Schiller
- Elias Ambuhl
- Jossi Wells and Russ Henshaw
Bobby Brown, double gold is a first for skiing at the X games (Vandervalk)
Russ Henshaw powered through the pain, stoking the crowd with a hand-plant misty before finishing his run with a switch double cork 10 double grab. (Vandervalk)
Jossi Wells, was solid in the slopestyle but not at his best. (Vandervalk)
Bobby does it again.
After qualifying third for the slopestyle finals, Russ Henshaw was looking good for a podium finish in the slopestyle until he hurt himself in the Big Air final. However Russ recovered enough overnight to lay down two impressive runs, his highest scoring 83.66 from the judges. Given Russ could hardly walk back to the snowmobiles for a lift to the top, it was a courageous effort and he has garnered a reputation as one of the toughest guys on tour. For Russ it was agonisingly close, but after making both the big air and slopestyle finals, Russ has confirmed his position as one of the elite in international competition.
Russ’ good mate, 19-year-old Breckenridge skier Bobby Brown, cemented his place at the top of the freeski tree when he also won gold in the slopestyle, edging out Norway’s Andrea Hatveit.
Bobby’s run: rail to uphill 450 off, switch 450 onto the disaster box, hand-plant misty 720 over the hitching post, switch right misty 900, double cork 1260 and finally the switch double misty 1260. Mind-blowing and Bobby is now the king.
Men’s Slopestyle Finals:
- Bobby Brown
- Andreas HÂtveit
- Sammy Carlson
- Phil Casabon
- Russ Henshaw
- Matt Walker
- Jossi Wells
- Tom Wallisch
Kevin Rolwand pulled it out in the second half of the final to take gold in the Superpipe. (Vandervalk)
Jossi Wells, in front of at least one Kiwi fan. (Vandervalk)
Young Kiwi skier Jossi Wells carried his Dew tour form into the Superpipe when he qualified first for the finals, ahead of multiple X- Games medallist Simon Dumont. It was a solid return to form for Wells and his run was smooth and technical: 900 to right 900 to 540 to 720 to switch 720 to alley oop flatspin 540 to 1080.
However no one was ready for what Kevin Rolland unleashed in the finals – easily the most progressive pipe run ever which include three doubles.
His five his five hit run had the crowd going off and the judges freaking – Whiskey flip mute grab to alley oop flatspin 360 to switch 720 to rightside whiskey flip to double cork 1260 to blowing the minds of the judges. Very few times has a run with two doubles been tried, let alone stomped and Rolland goes ahead and puts three in his run. Jossi finished second, getting plenty of height and smoothly linking each trick. Wells is one of the most sylish skiers out there and His 900 to right 900 to whiskey flip to right 720 to switch 720 shifty to alley oop flatspin 540 to 1080 was technical and smooth. Frenchman Xavier Bertoni was third and he probably went the biggest of the finalists.
While Tanner Hal is out of action due to injury it was also the first time in six years that Simon Dumont didn’t win a superpipe medal – is this a changing of the guard?
Men’s Superpipe Results:
- Kevin Rolland
- Jossi Wells
- Xavier Bertoni
- Simon Dumont
- Duncan Adams
- Tucker Perkins
- Colby West
- Peter Olenick
SUPERPIPE HIGH AIR
Peter Olenick cracked the 25 feet mark twice and set the new world record.
Xavier Bertroni hed up the French flag in the pipe
Excuse me while I touch the sky.
The final skiing event of the X games was the Superpipe High Air, a new event added this year. The concept is simple
Six athletes, two 10 minute sessions to high either wall, whoever goes the highest wins, doesn’t matter what trick you do, as long as you stomp.
In the end local lad peter Olenick boosted two massive airs wining the gold and setting a new world record. On his second last run Olenick hit 24 feet three inches in an alley oop flatspin 540, and then on his last drop, he skated in and boosted an incredible 24 feet 11 inches, in an alley oop flatpsin. The Guinness Book of records people were there to record it and it is now the official Superpipe height world record. Peter was the only competitor to launch heights over 24 feet.
Superpipe High Air Results:
- Peter Olenick – 24 feet 11 inches
- Justin Dorey – 23 feet 9 inches
- Kevin Rolland – 23 feet 4 inches
- Mike RIddle – 23 feet 1 inch
- Xavier Bertoni – 23 feet
- Simon Dumont – 22 feet 7 inches
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