Jen Hudak and Walter Wood win World Ski Invitational superpipe

Posted By: The Ski Channel on April 23, 2010 6:43 am

Jen Hudak and Walter Wood won the World Ski Invitational superpipe contest this Tuesday. Her victory at the WSI Superpipe in Whistler, one of the season’s most important halfpipe competitions, secured Jen Hudak the world championship title of the Association of Freeskiing Professionals. Russ Henshaw finished second in the AFP Big Air ranking following a second place in the Jon Olsson Invitational in Åre last week.

The World Ski Invitational, part of the World Ski & Snowboard Festival in Whistler, is traditionally the last big contest of the freeskiing season. Many of the biggest stars gather in the Canadian resort for one more showdown and to cap off the winter with a big party. With a total prize money of 70.000 Dollar, however, the WSI Superpipe was without a doubt one of the most important pipe competitions of the whole year. In the finals, the best riders of the previous day’s qualification met the best pipe riders of the world in a two-run format. Jen Hudak didn’t waste any time to affirm her position of the world’s best female pipe rider. The American from the East Coast had two great runs with her big 900° to Alley-oop 540°, consistent height and grabs, and a nicely tail-grabbed 720° at the end. Megan Gunning in second place and Mirjam Jaeger as third showed great tricks, too, but nobody could touch the perfection and consistency of the Marker Völkl team rider. With four victories in the season’s four most important superpipe competitions – both X Games in Aspen and Tignes, the Dew Tour in Snowbasin and now the WSI – the top spot in the Association of Freeskiing Professional’s pipe ranking couldn’t be less contentious: Jen Hudak is the 2010 AFP Superpipe World Champion!

Walter Wood, Jen Hudak’s team mate, hasn’t arrived at the top of the ranking just yet, but following his performance at the WSI he is strong contender for next season. The young American bagged the first major win of his career in a dominant style. He didn’t even show his new Alley-oop Double Flatspin 900° in the finals, but with a huge Rightside 10 followed by Switch Rodeo 7, back-to-back 9s and a solid 1440° Walter Wood was clearly ahead of his opponents. Not that he wasn’t contested: superpipe up-and-comers Joss Christensen and Taylor Seaton, both from the United States, completed the podium while pipe veterans like AJ Kemppainen and Peter Olenick finished down the ranks.

Almost on the top of the AFP ranking in big air finished Russ Henshaw. The Australian had been in the lead before the season’s last competition, the Jon Olsson Invitational in Åre last week. He even made it into the final of the JOI but there he faced Norwegian Andreas Håtveit, who also had a run for the top spot in the big air ranking. The final showdown for both the event and the AFP title couldn’t have been any closer. Andreas Håtveit showed a perfect Dub 10 Dub Mute to Dub Japan, Russ Henshaw countered with a likewise immaculate Dub 12 Mute to Japan. It was almost an impossible task but the judges had to decide for a winner, and finally they announced Andreas Håtveit the JOI champion. After some prolonged calculation, the AFP also announced that the Norwegian had surpassed Russ Henshaw in the big air rankings by the slightest of margins. The second place in both the JOI and the AFP ranking is still a great success for the Marker Völkl team rider, leaving all the rest of the world’s best freeskiers behind. And two days later Russ Henshaw was handed an even better consolation. His Rightside Double Cork 1260° was awarded “Best Trick” of the Jon Olsson Super Sessions, one of the most prestigious freeski events of the season with 21 top pros skiing and shooting in Åre for two full weeks. To deliver the best dish of this freestyle feast might be considered more valuable than any championship.

Jen Hudak is not only one of the most successful halfpipe riders you’ll find in freeskiing at the moment, she is also a very orderly girl. According to the classic US cliché, Jen worked at a supermarket as a teenager, helping customers to store their groceries in their bags. In doing so, she once found herself unpacking the bags and re-sorting the groceries neatly and orderly into it again. To arrange a successful ski career is not as easy as aligning groceries in a bag, but Jen is at least as passionate and solid about it. Since the psychology- and business student discovered halfpipe riding at the age of 14 she can’t think of anything better. “I love the freedom you have in Freeskiing. If you can imagine doing something on a pair of skis, chances are that you can go out and accomplish it.” To have better training options, Jen moved from Connecticut, Vermot, were she was born, to Salt Lake City, Utah and is to be found on the slopes usually in Alta, UT or Aspen, CO. Jen loves competitions and her fervor for Freeskiing pays off. Last year Jen won the US Open
and gained the silver medal at the X-Games. For this winter she has big plans too, but gold at the X-Games is still on top of her to do list. Consider that mission accomplished.

He is the personalized alliteration in the Voelkl Freeski Team: the young American Walter Wood. Considering the repetition of his initials from a freeskierʼs point of view, Walter Wood would be the born double flips specialist. Leaving the subjunctive behind and focussing on hard facts, the 17-years old Walter is the current world record holder for the most spins during one halfpipe run. But it is not only quantity that counts for the pipe specialist: with two second places at the US National Championships during the past two years he proved that he also stands for quality in matters of style. And the Evergreen, CO born Walter Wood is not focussing on pipe totally, he also loves to ride slopestyle competitions. He started skiing at the young age of two. Since then he was influenced both by his team mate Jen Hudak and his biggest idol Jonny Moseley, whom he also emulated in moguls. And there were of course Walterʼs parents that taught him how to have fun in powder, which turned out to be the other big influence on his skiing. But with modern training methods, it was assiduous Walter himself who started to work on his ambitious goals: During summer the US boy is improving his trick abilities on the water ramp at Utah Olympic Park and is training at the adequately labelled Center of Excellence. So he is strong-willed to win both the X-Games and the Winter Dew Tour some day and Walter is also looking forward to the Olympic Winter Games 2014 in Sochi. Which discipline? That
doesnʼt matter to him. Taking part is what matters.

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.