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Henshaw happy to put down two clean runs despite injury

18 February 2018

SKI SLOPESTYLE: Russ Henshaw, Australia’s only ski slopestyle representative at the PyeongChang Winter Games, was smiling before competition even began on Sunday.

The 27-year-old athlete said he was really happy just to line up for the qualifier of the men’s ski slopestyle event after injuring his knee less than a month ago.

Henshaw put down two clean runs in the qualifier but finished 19th overall, putting him out of contention for a place in the final.

His tricks were more cautious than the arsenal displayed by some of his counterparts, but Henshaw’s goal was always to get through the runs unscathed.

“Just being in that start gate about to drop, to get there after all I’ve been through over the last two weeks was a surreal feeling in itself,” Henshaw said.

“I was already smiling before I did my first run. Just getting there was an achievement in itself and then to land a run was… I’m happy.

“I just didn’t want to let (his knee injury) stop me from being here. I wanted to experience it, I’d dreamt about it for so long and I just did everything in my power to get here and put down a run and I’ve done that.”

Henshaw’s first run earned his higher score of 72.60, following up with 64.00 for his second.

Top score of the qualifier came from Sweden’s Oscar Wester who achieved an unbelievable run and a score of 95.40 to match.

Henshaw said his Olympic preparation consisted of two weeks of icing his knee and consultation with doctors about the appropriate course of action.

The official diagnosis is a meniscus tear and bone bruising, with the former requiring surgery upon Henshaw’s return to Australia.

“It’s been an emotional and physical rollercoaster,” he said.

“(At the Mammoth Mountain World Cup in January) I hurt my knee on the last run, last jump… and then went and saw a doctor in LA and he told me I’d done my ACL, basically that this dream was over so that was hard to deal with.

“Granted I’m injured, (today’s run) was not the run I was planning on and not what I wanted to do leading into this.

“I had different ideas and different plans that I wanted but given the circumstances I’m more than stoked.”

At the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, Henshaw competed in the debut of ski slopestyle also with injury concerns related to his ACL.

Henshaw said his PyeongChang appearance was “more painful” than in Sochi, but through gritted teeth the Jindabyne local persevered to make the start line.                                                        

“This was all muscle memory for me,” he said.

The men’s ski slopestyle final is being held Sunday 18 February in the afternoon.

Candice Keller

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