In the eight years since he burst onto the professional scene Australia’s Russell Henshaw has earned a prominent place for himself in the world of freestyle skiing, where, with every passing season, the tricks seem to get ever more mind-boggling and the jumps bigger and bigger. One of the biggest slopestyle stars of the Dew Tour, the X-Games, the AFP World Tour and FIS World Cup, Henshaw has spent the last couple of years training intensively for the sport’s Olympic debut at Sochi, with his sights set firmly on a medal.
The Aussie was on skis as soon as he could walk. “I started skiing at the age of three and soon after, at the age of seven, began to race,” the 23-year-old wrote on his blog “I raced until I was 12 and then found what I was truly passionate about, freestyle skiing. Since deciding I wanted to jump instead of race, I’ve never looked back. I’ve been a professional since I was 15 years old and travelling the globe since I was 14. My competitive nature has led me to some of the biggest competitions in the world, including X Games and the Dew Tour - where I have had success throughout the years. As of late I have been working towards what I am sure will be the biggest competition of my life: the Olympic Winter Games.”
The biggest challenge of all
As part of his preparations for the Games, Henshaw has been perfecting his repertoire of rail and jump features, which include tricks known as 270s, double cork 1080s, switch left side double rodeos and switch alley-oop double 900s. Regarded as one of the most talented slopestylers of his generation, Henshaw’s ability to push the boundaries could well prove decisive when the medals are handed out in Sochi.
Knee injuries in 2011 and early 2013 have failed to hold him back. “We figured out what the plan of attack was and I worked my butt off in the gym to be as strong as I could as fast as I could,” he said in April 2013, after recovering from the latest setback. “I managed to make it back in four weeks and into the back end of the season. Despite the injury I managed to finish seventh in the FIS slopestyle rankings (only taking part in two FIS events due to the injury) and second overall in the world for the AFP slopestyle world ranking thanks to my mid double cork 1080 at the AFP World Championships.”
Looking ahead to the start of an intensive international campaign that will lead all the way to Sochi, Henshaw said: “It’s going to be an intense season. I’m training in the gym and on snow as much as possible in the lead-up to next season, which I’m sure will be the biggest challenge of my life.”
One of Australia’s genuine medal prospects at Sochi 2014, Henshaw is relishing the opportunity to play his part in slopestyle’s Olympic debut: “Even if you don't take a medal home it’s a great experience. Not many people get to say they are an Olympian. Actually, it is kind of crazy when you think about it.”
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