Words & photos: Jeff Schmuck
It was another rainy and at times snowy evening here in Åre, Sweden for one of the biggest shows of them all at JOSS, the legendary Jon Olsson Invitational Big Air.
High winds and a down pouring of rain earlier in the day caused many to wonder if the iconic event would even happen, but as the skiers, filmers, photographers and substantial crowd made their way towards the jump, the winds began to die down and the rain came and went throughout the evening.
Due to the subpar weather and the fact that some of the guys are pretty battered and bruised after the last 10 days of skiing, a few decided to opt out of tonight's competition. Others went for it, and made their way to the top of the in-run for an hour and a half of practice before things got underway.
Nate Abbott, double tweet.
The format of the event was a two-run qualifier with the best run counting, after which the 16 skiers would be narrowed down to eight to battle it out in finals head-to-head with one jump each.
The top three from the Comviq Swedish Open, Simon Ericsson, Kristoffer Hedvall and Henri Koskalainen, kicked things off by taking full advantage of the opportunity to compete in JOI with smooth spins, diverse grabs and a handful of doubles, while Russ Henshaw, Tom Wallisch, Elias Ambhul and Andreas Håtveit got the doubles fest rolling at full steam ahead.
Team Newschoolers' LJ Strenio and Gus Kenworthy and Pekka Hyysalo, who just arrived in Åre to compete in JOI, were also getting their dubs on, while Team Norway's Sigbjørn Tveit, Team Sweden's Oscar Harlaut and the always original Laurent Favre were keeping things a bit slower with some buttery smooth spins and double grabs.
And the man who gave birth to the event, Jon Olsson, was more than making his presence felt with his brand new trick, a massive switch double cork 12.
After the qualification round, the judges, amongst them former JOI champion PK Hunder, announced the top eight and the breakdown of the brackets. It would be Russ Henshaw vs Swedish Open winner Henri Koskalainen, Tom Wallisch vs Elias Ambuhl, Jon Olsson vs Swedish Open 2nd place finisher Kristoffer Hedvall and Andreas Håtveit vs Alex Schlopy.
In the first round of finals, Russ Henshaw polished off Henri Koskalainen with a picture perfect double, Elias Ambuhl took down Tom Wallisch with his double cork 12 over Tom's switch double 10, Jon Olsson beat out Kristoffer Hedvall after he crashed, while Alex Schlopy crashed as well on an attempted switch double cork 14, allowing Andreas Håtveit to easily move to the next round.
It was then Henshaw vs Ambuhl, who missed the grab on his double cork, helping Russ secure his place in the final round, while Jon had a spot of trouble on his run which made way for Håtveit to square off against the Aussi for the win.
Jon then went up against Elias in a battle for third, where Elias redeemed himself with a massive, grabbed and stomped double cork 12, while once again Jon had trouble on the landing of his switch double cork 12, giving Elias the last spot on the podium.
It was then time for the big show, Andreas Håtveit vs Russ Henshaw. As the crowd roared in anticipation, Dre threw down a new grab variation on his double cork 10 with a double mute to double japan, which just edged out the trick Russ won this very event with last year, a double cork 12 mute to japan, giving the Norwegian superstar the novelty cheque, champagne bottles to spray, and the JOI championship.
There's still a bit more to come from JOSS, as tomorrow is the last official day of the competition, during which the teams will be scrambling for last second shots, or more likely, hunkered down in their rooms putting the finishing touches on their edits in time for tomorrow night's 6pm deadline.
Check out our latest ski porn-filled episode of NSTV on JOI below for those of you who missed the live broadcast, and be sure to hit up http://www.josupersessions.com and http://www.jon-olsson.com to keep tabs on what Colby James West and Jon Olsson are up to with their videoblogs.
NSTV JOSS - Jon Olsson Invitational