On Tuesday, Russ Henshaw became the second freeskier ever to land a triple cork 1440, just a few days after Bobby Brown became the first. Henshaw landed it in a 45-minute practice session on the Jon Olsson Invitational jump in Åre, Sweden. The qualifying round for JOI is scheduled for Friday and finals on Saturday.
Henshaw estimated the jump at about 80 feet and says it's built much like the 2007 JOI feature. "It's got a lot of kick on it so it puts you up really high," Henshaw told ESPN, adding that he overshot the landing while warming up but it still felt safe and soft with little impact.
On his sixth hit off the jump, he landed the triple on his first try that day. "Finally, I've done it," Henshaw says he thought after sticking it.
Henshaw attempted the triple once last year, but hit his head in the process and stopped the session. "I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for a good jump and to have the chance to finally do it again," he says. "I'm super stoked."
McRae Williams added to the triple madness, landing a switch triple cork 1260 in the same JOI practice session. Williams punched his ticket to JOI when he won a video qualification contest on Newschoolers.com. Klaus Finne attempted a triple cork 1800 but was unable to land it. Olsson, who attempted a triple cork 1440 in New Zealand in August, was pleased with the results of the practice session. "I was a part of that program when things went from singles to doubles, and it's cool to see it take it to another level," he says.
"What do you say when you have two landed triples and an attempt after 45 minutes?" Olsson says in his video blog. "But that's why I do this event, so we can push the sport and so we can show the Swedish crowd some kick-ass skiing."
The JOI field this year features many freeskiers attending JOI for the first time after more seasoned names -- including Gus Kenworthy and Jacob Wester -- opted to attend the AFP World Championships in Whistler this weekend. "It's definitely a different vibe this year because we're used to seeing the same faces and the same people," Henshaw said. "But it's good, everyone's getting along and having a good time, super stoked on the jump."
Olsson, PK Hunder, Elias Ambuhl, Andreas Hatveit, Laurent Favre, Aleksander Aurdahl, and Alex Schlopy make up the usual suspects at JOI 2011. Video qualification contests helped select the fresh faces that make up the rest of the field.
The Jon Olsson Super Sessions film competition is on hiatus this year in a response to rider requests for a week-long session on a single jump like the 2007 version. The competition format and judging system are also new for 2011. In the qualifying event on Friday night, each skier will take two runs and the best will count. A total of 10 riders and two wild cards will advance to the finals.
"It's a super well-built jump and it's super safe," Henshaw says. "If we get longer sessions and the weather's good, I don't know, the sky's the limit. We'll see what happens."
To add another aspect of progression to the event, Olsson is running a dual slalom race in conjunction with the freestyle big air. World Cup alpine racers will make up eight teams of two to run a time trial Friday night, and finals will take place Saturday. Olsson says he will compete in both the race and freestyle disciplines, and says there is talk of US Ski Team racer Ted Ligety, the 2011 World Cup champion in giant slalom, wanting to try the big air. "It's really a strong field," Olsson says. "It's always tough the first year to get that together, but they're psyched to come and do a different event."