Words by Jeff Schmuck
Photos by Dan Brown
Russ Henshaw just picked up the biggest victory of his career tonight in a legendary big air battle of epic proportions at the Jon Olsson Invitational in Åre, Sweden.
Under rainy skies and a huge and rowdy crowd undeterred by the weather 19 of the world's best riders kicked things off with two runs each with the best one counting.
John Symms & Colby West
The preliminary round showed how hard working and amazing this group of skiers are, as despite the pouring rain and mash potato landing everyone gave it their all, throwing switch 9's, 10's, 12's, 14's and double after double after double.
After much deliberation amongst the recently arrived judges JF Cusson and Chris Turpin, the 19 skiers were narrowed down to eight and from there it was head-to-head sudden death style with each skier getting one run against his opponent. PK Hunder topped the field originally but crashed hard on his second run and tweaked his neck (he's reportedly alright though), forcing him to pull out.
Here's the breakdown of what went down: Jon Olsson vs Bobby Brown in a war of switch double cork 10's which Jon won...
Russ Henshaw vs Thomas Doplands which Russ took with a double of his own...
TJ Schiller vs Oscar Scherlin which Oscar won in a close call with a switch cork 12 double nose grab over TJ's switch double cork 10...
and Andreas Håtveit vs Henrik Harlaut (who originally placed ninth in prelims just behind Jossi Wells, but was awarded a spot in finals after the Kiwi tweaked his bad knee and opted to call it a night as well), in which Andreas prevailed via an even closer call with a massive double cork 12 over Henrik Harlaut's second ever switch 16, which was dripping with style...
It was down to the top four which saw the mastermind of the event Jon Olsson square off against Russ Henshaw and Andreas Håtveit against local boy wonder Oscar Scherlin.
Jon continued to toss his flawless switch double cork 10 (with a bit of a poke thrown in for good measure) and Russ sent it with his double cork 10 double grab (high mute to japan, which he only started doing two days ago). Russ advanced.
Oscar continued to throw down his massive switch cork 12 double nose grab which he held literally from the moment he took off the jump until just before he touched down on the landing, and Andreas answered with another gigantic double cork 12 which sent him on to finals against the Australian stallion.
In a fine show of showmanship and sportsmanship, Åre's hometown heroes Jon and Oscar then opted to hit the jump side-by-side to duke it out for third and fourth and split the prize money between the two of them, and in the end Oscar took fourth and Jon picked up third place for his 67,854th time.
Oscar & Jon
It then came down to the big show, Russ vs Andreas. Russ went first and did his biggest double cork 10 high mute/japan of the night with a video and picture perfect landing, and Andreas followed it up with a buck wild double cork 12.
Russ on his way to victory
It really could have gone either way, but in the end the judges gave the nod to an indescribably ecstatic Russ, who called tonight the best night of his life while relishing in his huge victory as Jon and Oscar drowned him in champagne.
Check out our best episode yet of NSTV from JOSS below, which features more action from JOI that you can shake your keyboard at, and also be sure to check out our most recent update on JOSS which gives an in-depth look at what's going on behind the scenes with the filmers and photographers as they soldier on towards tomorrow morning's 8am deadline for the edits. Following that we'll have full coverage on the culmination of this fantastic event, the JOSS Awards, which are going down tomorrow night at the Mix Megapool Arena in the gorgeous Holiday Club hotel here in beautiful Åre, Sweden.