Russ Henshaw tops field at the Dew Tour slopestyle final in Breckenridge
On Saturday, nearly 30 men competed in the slopestyle prelims, gunning for 12 available spots in today’s final. Snowfall hampered the athletes’ abilities to perform yesterday, and unfortunately that was the case once again this afternoon, with hefty winds complicating matters further. Despite the unfavorable conditions, 12 skiers dropped in for two runs each—best score counting in the end.
The first handful of athletes to ski failed to link solid runs. It was in fact Mr. Henshaw—the ninth skier to drop in run #1—who bagged the first outstanding run of the day. Russ went 270 onto the waterfall rail up top, spun a 270 up onto the top of the wallride, stomped a double cork 10 mute on jump one and a rightside 9 on jump two, cleaned a switch 270 onto the rainbow box at mid-course, and closed out his run with a switch double 9 into a rightside double 12 mute on the 67-foot money booter. Henshaw was awarded an 84.5, a top score that would hold through the duration of the competition. Russ was unable to complete his second run.
Dropping next was Norwegian Andreas Håtveit. No stranger to the Dew Tour finals, Andreas has in fact not missed the finals of an event that he has entered in the past seven years. Andreas’ run consisted of a 50-50, hop to sideways slide, to front swap on the waterfall; a switch 270 lipslide disaster on the down-flat-down; a switch right 10; switch 9; 630 off the C-box at mid-course; double cork 10 and rightside 9 tail to close. Andreas garnered an even 80, which would ultimately carry him to the second place spot on the podium. Dre, as he’s called by many nowadays, was on track to up his score on his second run when he went a bit bigger than expected on his final jump, over-rotating onto his side. We learned this evening that Andreas suffered a mild MCL injury as a result of the spill, and wish him the best in his recovery.
Amid the second runs, it was Swede Henrik Harlaut whose run stood out. Harlaut opened his run with a backside switch-up on the flat-down rail and a 630 disaster on the down-flat-down, and linked with a nosebutter double cork 10 on jump one, rightside bio 7 on jump two, a 270-on, 270-off the rainbow box at mid-course, a massive switch 9 and a left bio 10 tail to close. The judges awarded Henrik a 78.75, good enough for third place today. Henrik showed no frustration with the weather when we spoke to him post-event; he was as stoked as ever—to nobody’s surprise.
Checking in with Henrik Harlaut and Russ Henshaw, post Dew Tour slopestyle finals
Many of the other competitors showed signs of greatness today, including yesterday’s top qualifier James Woods, but were unable to complete full runs on account of the conditions—a shame, given most of the athletes praised the course for its incorporation of fantastic features and its smooth overall flow. Some of the more memorable mishaps included Tom Wallisch’s ski popping off on the takeoff of jump #3, flying into the air, sending Tom for a flight that caused all spectators’ hearts to skip a beat. Also, on his second run, Nick Goepper came up short on a switch double 9, and—with his body in a vulnerable position—took a mighty big slam into the knuckle. Happy to see both of those guys walk away unscathed.
We spoke with Gus Kenworthy following the event to inquire how the inclement weather affected him today. “When conditions are bad, it’s super hard knowing what you have to do to get the score you’re looking for, and thinking it’s not totally in your control. Also, you never know if people are going to put down easy runs, or charge full force. So it’s a bit of a challenge to figure out how to ski.” Gus continued, “Unfortunately, the wind played a huge factor today, and not many were able to land solid runs. Henshaw put it down in a big way, though. Stoked for him. But overall, I don’t think it was quite the level of competition anyone was looking for today.”
The conditions surely didn’t make life easy for the judges, either, who have a difficult time scoring high profile slopestyle events to begin with. “The men’s slopestyle competition here at Dew is one of the hardest events we’ll judge all year,” said Steele Spence, Ops Manager for AFP and Head Judge here at Dew. “The level of riding is incredible. It really comes down to execution, because all the riders are skiing at a pretty much an equally high degree of difficulty.”
While it would have been nice to see the finalists tackle this course in ideal conditions, Mother Nature had her say today, and there’s no arguing with Mother Nature. Nevertheless, big congratulations go out to Russ, who was long overdue for a first place finish at Dew. After obliging the media’s incessant requests for interviews (including my own), Russ retreated to the athlete lounge. Upon entering, he was greeted by loud applause (the lounge was packed with skiers and snowboarders who watched the slope finals on TV, escaping the gnar weather) and a cold PBR. Russ indicated that he’s going to “get weird” tonight while celebrating his win. Cheers to that.
A glimpse of the rough conditions, as seen at the bottom of the slopestyle course
To see how this affects the AFP World Rankings, visit afpworldtour.com.
Fantasy Freeride players will want to know how they fared following the first event of the FFL season. Scores have been calculated now that Dew has come to a close, and those scores/standings can be seen at fantasyfreeride.com.
Dew Tour slopestyle final results
1. Russ Henshaw — 84.50
2. Andreas Håtveit — 80.00
3. Henrik Harlaut — 78.75
4. Matt Walker — 77.25
5. Tom Wallisch — 74.25
6. Sean Jordan — 70.25
7. Aleksander Aurdal — 62.75
8. JF Houle — 60.50
9. James Woods — 37.00
10. Nick Goepper — 30.50
11. Alex Bellemare — 29.50
12. Gus Kenworthy — 20.50