A new year of ski competition kicked off this week at Cardrona Ski Resort in Wanaka, New Zealand, as the Volkl NZ Freeski Open returned once again to preview the level of riding at the slew of upcoming contests this winter.
As we mentioned, the younger guys dominated this contest as Volkl skier Russ Henshaw lead the podium alongside Colorado skiers Bobby Brown and Gus Kenworthy, in second and third respectively. The outcome of the event wasn’t so much the story of the day as those skiers dominated virtually every contest they entered last year, but it was the ever-increasing level of skiing that had everyone talking.
Doubles (corks and flips) became the industry standard last competition season, and skiers who didn’t have them dialed in had little shot of earning a podium position. However, a new “must-have” trick is already emerging based on yesterday’s contest results, the unnatural double cork, composed of two-and-a-half off-axis spins performed using your opposite rotational direction.
Both Russ and Bobby used the once unfathomable move to lock in spots in the medal positions. While we knew that these two skiers had stomped the move during the spring months at events such as the Jon Olsson Super Sessions, we weren’t sure quite when, or if at all, skiers would be tossing said move consistently enough to bring into contests.
Most recently, Tom Wallisch had the industry buzzing with confirmation that he had stomped all four double cork 1080s: regular double cork 1080, switch double cork 1080, unnatural double cork 1080, and switch unnatural double cork 1080. Look for the absent Wallisch to bring these moves to the snow this winter, as like any skiing precedent, everyone is sure to follow.
Progression wasn’t just limited to the boys; girl skiers were equally throwing down new contest moves. Women’s champ Kim Lamarre, who had been known more for her rail skills, upped the ante with a flawless zero spin, while Australia’s Anna Segal continued to get inverted with her patented lincoln loops. With Canada’s Jessica Warll just recently stomping a double flatspin 720 in Whistler, this New Zealand contest could be just the tip of the iceberg for women’s ski contests this season.
Check out the video from the slopestyle finals: