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Russ Henshaw Wins the Frostgun Invitational Big Air [video]
Val Thorens, France — 2/17/11 — Val Thorens played host to the Frostgun Invitational for the third year running. Michael Fugmann and his team had constructed a massive Big Air in the resort, and some of the worldʼs best turned up to put on a display that wonʼt easily be forgotten. In the end it was last yearʼs champion, Russ Henshaw who managed to see off the rest of the field to retain the coveted title.
This year the focus was all on the jump and the size and shape of it had the riders salivating! The Scandinavian shaping team, led by David Ny and Lionel Broche had done a great job in sculpting this massive feature with its 25 meter table despite the poor snow across Europe.
The rider field was definitely stronger than ever before and as well as last yearʼs winner, included the Swiss wonder kid Elias Ambühl, top Norwegian riders like Gaute Silseth, Thomas Dolplads and of course a swarm of French big air specialists, like Julien Lange and Sam Favret.
The qualifications kicked off in the morning under blue skies. 22 riders were to start with only 8 making it through to the knockout finals round. The qualification format was simple. Riders took 3 runs, with the best two counting, however the two counted runs had to be different, so riders couldnʼt just lay down a trick and then try and improve on it every run, they had to show off a variety of tricks as well.
After 3 runs Russ Henshaw was on top with a rightside dub cork 12 mute and dub cork 10 mute, meanwhile Markus Eder was close behind with a dub cork 12 mute and a dub rodeo 9 japan. Elias Ambühl was not far behind with a dub cork 10 mute to a switch dub cork 10. The rest of the qualified field was as follows:
1) Russ Hanshaw
2) Markus Eder
3) Elias Ambühl
4) Thomas Dolplads
5) Gaute Silseth
6) Victor Berard
7) Sam Favret
8) Fridjof Fredricsson
9) Klaus Finne
10) Julien Lange
Russ Henshaw. Credit: David Malacrida
Then it was on to the knock out stages, with 1 run for the 1⁄4 final and 1⁄2 final (again riders were not allowed to repeat their tricks here). And eventually the super final with a best of 3 runs to decide the winner.
In the first quaterfinal Russ Henshaw beat Fridjof Fredricsson with a dub cork 10 mute, however we should point out that Fridjof was trying triple cork 1440ʻs, showing the progressive side of the sport! In the second heat, Gaute Silseth won with a nice dub cork 12 mute against Thomas Dolplads with a dub cork 10 mute. In the their heat Elias Ambühl beat Victor Berard with a dub cork 10 mute against a crashed dub cork 12. In the last quarter final, Sam Favret won with a massive bio 9 dub japan shifty against Markus who crashed!
Then the 4 riders moved to the semi-final where Russ Henshaw won with a nice rightside dub cork 12 against Gaute Silseth. On the second semi-final Elias won with a nice switch dub cork 12 Mute against Sam Favret with his giant bio 9 dub japan shifty.
Fritdjof Fredricsson. Credit: David Malacrida
Then the crowd started going crazy as Markus sent some dub cork 12s and even tried a dub cork 1620 but crashed. Unfortunately he seemed a little worse for wears and we wish him a speedy recovery. For the third place playoff, Sam Favret and Gaute Silseth decided to go for an easy and steezy trick with Sam ending up on the podium!
Meanwhile, in the Super Final, Russ started with a perfect rightside dub cork 12 mute and Elias wasnʼt able to defeat him even landing his magical switch dub cork 12 high mute. So the first point went to Russ Henshaw. On the second Run Elias wasnʼt able to land his switch dub cork 1440 mute so Russ could afford to take it easy, but he still landed a nice dub cork 10 mute which gave him the the second and winning point.On the final jump, both went nuts with Russ throwing a ridiculous dub cork 1440 and Elias a switch dub cork 1440!
1) Russ Henshaw
2) Elias Ambühl
3) Sam Favret
4) Gaute Silseth
T-5) Markus Eder
T-5) Victor Berard
T-5) Fridjof Fredricsson
T-5) Thomas Dolplads
So after a crazy day that once again saw the sport pushed to even further levels, all the riders were stoked and eager to come back next year for a bigger and better show! As an AFP Gold ranking event, the result here may yet prove crucial to the overall rankings this year, with Elias and Russ both situated near the top.
Elias Ambühl. Credit: David Malacrida