Jossi Wells wins Austrian Freeski Open

Posted By: The Ski Channel on March 1, 2010 9:23 am

                                                                       MARKER VÖLKL FREESKI TEAM RULES AFO

With a world-class starting field and a great course in the Mellow Park at Kitzsteinhorn the Austrian Freeski Open were the first major freestyle event in Europe 2010. The dominating force at the men’s slopestyle competition was undoubtedly the Marker Völkl Freeski Team as Russ Henshaw, JF Houle and Pekka Hyysalo placed second, third and fourth.

The riding level at the men’s slopestyle competition of this year’s Austrian Freeski Open was extremely high. Although the jury had to limit the course to a massive kinked box and the big kicker due to strong winds on Saturday, the world’s best freestyle skiers showed the most advanced tricks and flawless style. The ten finalists, five of which had competed at this year’s X Games, performed double flips on the kicker and a multitude of spins on and off the jib obstacle. The strongest appearance among this outstanding field had the Marker Völkl Freeski Team. Russ Henshaw from Australia added a Switch-up 360° to his 270° On at the kinked box and showed an immaculate Double Cork 1080° Mute at the kicker despite the fact that he only had arrived the evening before following a film shoot with MSP. This great performance earned him a second-place-finish closely behind Jossi Wells from New Zealand. The Australian was really happy with his result: “I felt tired this morning, since I have just arrived from an intense film shoot. But the event was great, so I got motivated and I am stoked to take second place. I really had fun and that’s the key to my good performance.”

The only rider to top Russ Henshaw was Jossi Wells, who showed a Rodeo 450° onto the kinked box and a Double Cork 1260° Mute at the kicker. Third place went to JF Houle from Canada, also of the Marker Völkl Freeski Team, with an insane 450° On 270° Off at the box and a massive Bio 1080° True Tail at the kicker. It was due to his great jib performance that he could hold his teammate Pekka Hyysalo to fourth place. The young Finn impressed with a perfect Double Cork 1260°, rounding out an immense team feat. The Völkl crew is undoubtedly in great shape right in time for the next season highlight, the European Freeski Open in Laax.

To describe the young Australian Russ Henshaw seemed to be quite easy until now: The contest high-flyer from Down Under. But this over-simplification has to stop now! For 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 there is only one answer to the question what he is doing in summer: “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, the leading ski video production company over the last years. In their newest production “In Deep” Russ already has a feature section at the young age of 19!  And this is no surprise at all, as he either sticks a trick or works on it until he lands  it everytime. This is daily business to Russ, working on his skills, adding the perfection that the other pro skiers don’t have. After all, he has the 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.

In a certain sense JF Houle is a snowboarder! At least he was impressed by the one-board sport so much that he names it as being the biggest influence on his riding. Fortunately, several famous freeski big names and movies crossed the way of the young Canadian over the years, so the 23-year-old kept on skiing. And it was worth it. First he won a medal at the US Open, then he got first at the Dew Tour in Mt. Snow, finally he managed to make a mind blowing ski movie part with Pléhouse productions. The foundation for all this, was already there long ago: As a child, JF always wanted to compete in mogul contests. However, his parents weren’t able to finance the
expensive and hard training. But the talented freestyler skied so well, that the contest riders accepted him as a friend and skiing buddy. At the age of 14 years, JF took part in his first Big Air competition. Sponsors kept an eye on the youngster and since his win at the second tour stop of last season’s Winter Dew Tour, the exceptional freestyler is at home with the world‘s best riders. On the current top of his career, the Quebec local injured himself seriously last year. But with this year’s new season in mind, JF worked hard and passionately on his comeback during the summer mountainbiking, skateboarding, and training on the trampoline and water ramp. Because there are still some freeskiing goals missing, which he hasn’t yet achieved.

One day, Pekka wants to be an airplane pilot. How convenient that this young Finn has adapted to long air times and breathing thin air due to his experience as a freeskier. Of course, this does not only include his acclimatization on the mountains peaks, but also the tricks the 19-year-old does at aeronautical heights. Since starting his freeskiing career after a successful ski racing career, the former Finnish champion is now addicted to the park. This might be caused by his favorite ski resort. Or maybe he choose the resort due to his park ambitions? In any case, born in Turku, Pekka is often found shredding in Ruka, located in the very north of Finland. To leave from there on his many voyages around the rest of the world, being a pilot would be very helpful. The Austrian and European Open are far away, the X-Games even further. But all of these contests are in Pekkaʻs sights for this coming season. Long term dreams for Pekka include the elusive gold medal at X Games.  He has been training hard on water ramps during the summer and will take his hard work all through America during the Dew Tour on the way to realize his dreams.