Russ Henshaw Qualifies First for X Games Men’s Slopestyle
Top qualifier Russ Henshaw.
Another beautifully sunny day presided over Aspen, CO today, as the Slopestyle competitors got underway. First up, Men's Slopestyle Elimination. Today, 15 men were strained down to a more manageable 8 for Saturday afternoon's finals. But in the end, it was Australia's Russ Henshaw (who is has been quite the prelim-killer this season) who took the top qualifying spot with a big score of 94.00.
Russ Henshaw 270s
Henshaw was one of the few men to utilize the three-double-cork strategy. His switch left double 900 to left double cork 1080 to right double cork 1260 blew away the competition. In the second qualifying spot was Gus Kenworthy, who seems to be enjoying his first X Games. Kenny G. had one of the most tech rail sections, inclined a 450 to 270 out on the joystick down rail. Kenny's double cork 1260 to switch rightside 1080 to switch double rodeo 1080 definitely got the judges attention.
Sitting on the bubble going into his last run, Sammy Carlson pulled out a big run in the bottom of the 9th to snag 3rd. His rightside rodeo 900 to switch double rodeo 900 to double cork 1080 pulled him from the depths of possible elimination and into the spotlight. Nike 6.0 teammate Andreas Håtveit held down the fourth qualifying spot with back-to-back double corks, one to the left, one to the right. Andreas was one of two competitors who opted out of the cannon box, using it as a jump instead.
Armada TM Josh Bishop talks Men's Slopestyle Qualifiers.
Bobby Brown, last year's X Games Slopestyle gold medalist took the 5th spot in a nerve-wracking final run. On the outside looking in after two runs, Brown managed to put together a run that included a beautiful switch 900, rightside double cork 1080 and leftside double cork 1260. Ending up in 5th was a big sigh of relief for the Teen Heartthrob who looks to defend his title.
Henrik Harlaut followed in sixth with what was probably the biggest switch double cork 1080 of the day on the money boater. Elias Ambühl, who dropped three doubles in a row — double cork 1260 blunt, switch right double 1080 and switch left double rodeo 1080 — snagged the 7th spot. Look for Ambühl to double flip his way around the finals. Coming in on the bubble spot was Phil Casabon. B-Dog has finished 4th the past two years, all without the help of double corks, just like his runs today. Rightside 900, Switch 1080 and switch 1260 all helped Phil's cause with the judges this morning.
Phil Casabon — rightside 900
Just missing out on finals was Jossi Wells, who is still coming back from his ankle surgery in the off season. Despite a valiant effort — double cork 1080 to switch double cork 1260 — Wells was bumped off the bubble by Brown's final run.
Putting down runs but just missing out were JF Houle, Ian Cosco and Jacob Wester. Sometimes the judging goes your way and sometimes it doesn't, and today was one f those days for these three guys. All three put down monstrous double corks and tech rails, but were ousted ever so slightly by the top 8.
Henshaw wants more.
Alex Schlopy, who couldn't quite put down a super clean run, turned heads with his switch double wobble 1260 to double cork 1260. "It's like a hurricane spin," according to John Symms of Schlopy's switch 1260. Being the ripe age of 18, we'll surely see more of Schlopy out there. After qualifying a couple weeks ago for the X Games at the North Face Park and Pipe Open in Northstar, Chris Logan put his best down, but ended up near the back of the pack. Colby James West, two time X Games medalist, also stomped some big double cork 1260s, but it wasn't quite enough today.
Now that the top eight are set, more questions arise. Will we see three-double-cork lines from more competitors on Saturday? Will Brown repeat last year's magical performance? Will Henshaw finally get the scores he deserves? Will Casabon break the streak of fourths and take a medal? We'll see you on Saturday afternoon to find out.
Andreas Håtveit — Double cork 1080
Men's Slopestyle Elimination:
1. Russ Henshaw — 94.00
2. Gus Kenworthy — 92.66
3. Sammy Carlson — 91.00
4. Andreas Håtveit — 90.00
5. Bobby Brown — 87.33
6. Henrik Harlaut — 84.33
7. Elias Ambühl — 84.00
8. Phil Casabon — 83.33
_ _ _ Cut Off _ _ _
9. Jossi Wells — 83.00
10. JF Houle — 80.00
11. Ian Cosco — 79.00
12. Jacob Wester — 75.00
13. Alex Schlopy — 72.00
14. Chris Logan — 68.66
15. Colby West — 64.00
About the author:
Shay Williams is the Managing Editor of Freeskier Magazine. He loves cheeseburgers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sweden. He's likely on a plane right now—first class only.