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In September, freeskier Russ Henshaw won the One Hit Wonder Big Air contest in his home country of Australia. Recently, the 22-year-old big air and slopestyle skier was also voted as the winner of the contest's people's choice award. Henshaw appears in this fall's release from Matchstick Productions, "Superheroes of Stoke." We spoke to him from his home in Australia about year-round winter, triples, and big air in the Olympics.
How was your summer, er, winter down under?
Well, my winter never really ended. I finished up a shoot with Matchstick in Alaska in early June, so by the time I got home winter was in full effect and I think I started skiing the day after I arrived home. I have basically just been skiing all southern hemi winter. Mainly in Australia, but I did do a quick trip to New Zealand for a performance camp with Red Bull and the NZ Freeski Open. I also did a trip to Europe for Freestyle.ch and IF3. It's bizarre how this is meant to be my down time, yet I'm still flat out. It's worth it though.
You cleaned up at One Hit Wonder, winning first place and the people's choice award. What's it feel like to win big in your home country?
It feels amazing. I have never had my parents watch first hand a big competition like this. So it felt good to finally be able to show them, in person, what I do. There are a few more things about competing so close to home that are definitely awesome, like sleeping in your own bed, home-cooked meals and your friends are up there skiing with you.
You won that contest with a triple cork 1440. Do you think we'll be seeing this trick more frequently at big air contests this winter?
I am sure it's going to be seen more and more, but I feel like it all comes down to the size of the jump. I think you need a decent sized jump to give you the room to safely do the trick. But in saying that, when double corks first starting happening, people said pretty much the same thing and doubles are do-able on much smaller jumps than ever thought possible.
|Russ Henshaw at this summer's Red Bull Performance Camp in New Zealand.|
Australia doesn't have many elite-level freeskiers. So are you basically a shoe-in for Australia's 2014 Olympic slopestyle team?
Australia has a lot of talented athletes. The problem for them is getting the support from sponsors to afford flights and basically living away from home for long enough to qualify. I know there will be quite a few Aussies traveling to the qualifying events this year. It will be interesting to see how they perform.
What do you think about the possibility of the IOC adding big air to the Olympics for 2018?
It could be good and it could be bad. I think people need to remember that big air is basically a show and it can't lose the wow factor. I think the way Jon Olsson runs the Jon Olsson Invitational is something they should look at. He tweaks the format each year so it keeps the crowd stoked and also makes it more fun for us riders. That said, it would be a pretty crazy competition with the most ridiculous tricks you could think of. I think if it happens, it's going to push athletes even further than we thought possible.
What are your goals for this upcoming contest season?
I would obviously like to qualify for the Olympics but also I'd like to do well on the AFP standings. I would also like to wrap up the season with some more filming. Basically I want to ski a lot and have as much fun as I can.