The field of world-class athletes were confronted with blue skies and a superbly sculpted 25 metre jump at the Frostgun Invitational in Val Thorens. This turned out to be one of the most impressive displays of Big Air skills all year, especially for Australian Marker Völkl rider Russ Henshaw who took home the title for the second year running.
Russ had a tough battle in the quarter finals against his Marker Völkl teammate Fridtjof Fredricsson, who was determined to make things difficult for the Australian and might well have succeeded, had he landed his triple cork 1440°. However, Russ stayed composed and got through with a perfect double cork 1080°. His other fellow teammates had little fortune in the quarterfinales and all dropped out. Markus Eder, who came into the competition as one of the favourites after winning the La Clusaz stop of the SFR tour last weekend, was particularly unlucky when he crashed out against French Sam Favret. Unfortunately the Italian hurt himself and had to be taken off the course, although we have since learnt that his injuries were only minor and he will be back on his skis in no time.
The Super Final promised to be exciting, with Russ Henshaw meeting a fellow Big Air master, Elias Ambühl, and it certainly lived up to expectations. Russ started with a perfect rightside double cork 1260° mute grab, and took the first point in a best of three format. On the second jump Elias could not quite put down his switch double cork 1440°, so Russ just had to land his double cork 1080° to win. He did so, and the riders were left with one run to entertain the crowd as the result had already been decided. Both riders threw huge double cork 1440s to mass applause. It was a superb display, and the Marker Völkl team showed huge promise with more major European freestyle events on the way!
ABOUT: RUSS HENSHAW
To describe the young Australian Russ Henshaw seemed quite easy: the contest high-flyer from Down Under. But this over-simplification came to an end last year! Nowadays, Russ is much more than just a damn good contest rider. He is one of the coolest young freeski stars, and this has to be taken literally. He is a winter kid. For him finding something to do in the summer is easy: "I ski because it is winter here in Australia!“ Besides his really impressive range of good contest results – he himself describes the success at the Jon Olsson Invitational 2009 as his career highlight – Russ is also riding for Matchstick Productions, a leading ski video production company. He scored his first full segment in last year’s "In Deep“ at the young age of 19 and continues to headline their cast in 2010. However, this is no surprise as he either sticks a trick or works on it until he lands it every time. This is daily business to Russ, working on his skills, performing his tricks to absolute perfection. After all, he has the necessary time to improve the details, as Russ enjoys the winter for almost 365 days per year. Either somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere or at his home spot in Thredbo, Australia.
ABOUT: MARKUS EDER
At first sight, Markus Eder is a typical Italian from Southern Tyrol. He was born in Bruneck and raised in Luttach in the nearby Ahrntal valley, where he still lives today. He started skiing at the age of four, was an alpine racer for many years and enjoys rock climbing in the summer. The 20-yearold even loves pizza and ice-cream. However, a few winters back something diverted his typically Italian path. He discovered freeskiing! Five years later Markus Eder is the first Italian new school freestyler to reach international recognition. A first exclamation mark was an impressive win of his qualifying heat at the European Freeski Open in Laax. Unfortunately for Markus, the finals had to be cancelled due to bad weather. Thus it took another two months of waiting until his breakthrough to stardom with the victory at the Nine Knights Big Air Invitational last year. Markus Eder might not stay alone for long as an Italian freeski star, however. There has developed a lively freestyle scene in the land of soccer and pasta, with the funpark in Bruneck being one of the entres. In Bruneck and on the Schnalstal glacier is also where Markus Eder prepared for this season to eventually reach his big goal already, the participation at the X Games. If he makes it, the reggae fan might even quit his current occupation as electrician for a while.