DISCIPLINE: Freeskier; Slopestyle and Big Air skier
FROM: Jindabyne, NSW, Australia
DOB: 7 June 1990
LATEST RESULTS: www.russhenshaw.com
Born in Sydney, Henshaw strapped on his first pair of skis when he was three. A dozen years later, encouraged by national under-12 slalom titles, his parents moved to Jindabyne, the golden gateway to the NSW snowfields. Now he spends most of the year with his passport in his pocket on a world dream snowfields tour; home maybe for 10 days for Christmas in the northern winter, anywhere from his beloved Thredbo to New Zealand or even South America during the southern winter.
There’s a little bit of his old man in Russ Henshaw. It’s in his right knee. It’s a little snipped ribbon of his dad’s hamstring tendon and it’s been doing the trick as a jury-rigged ACL since June 3, 2011.
Russ Henshaw is a pinned down 21-year-old freeskier from the pretty, schizophrenic snow hub of Jindabyne in NSW. He is also one of the fastest rising alpine athletes in the world: the 2011 northern hemisphere winter saw him win X Games and World Championship medals, land the world’s second ever triple cork and establish himself as one of the most innovative skiers of his generation.
With slopestyle just added to the Winter Olympic program for Soichi in 2014, it also makes him one of Australia’s brightest gold medal prospects – even as he recovers. Russ will be back on the slopes for the 2012 northern winter… with dad’s help. “It’ll be a dream come true to represent my country,” he says.
He tore his ACL in Alaska, “trying to do a switch unnatural dub rodeo nine so I had all four double corks in my arsenal of tricks”. Frustratingly, he completed it – only to come up short on the jump and bounce into the landing.
Still, with risk comes reward, and Henshaw heals fast. Having started skiing at three, he’s spent minimal time off the slopes, even despite once fracturing a kneecap into 30 separate pieces (a diagnosis missed by NZ doctors), which only cost him four months. “[The ACL] is going great,” he says. “I should be able to start jumping and doing what I do by mid-November.”
Now part of his dad will get the chance to join him on the podium – and in the air. Lucky the old boy has the stones to keep it cool when Russ is 40 feet in the air. “Oh, Dad doesn’t really freak out,” he says. “He keeps up with where I’m at. My mum kinda does but I don’t think she really grasps how big it is on the TV. I think if she saw it in person she’d… she’d faint.”