Henshaw’s return to the World Cup circuit
10 January 2017
SKIING: It may be a dangerous sport, but nothing will stop slopestyle skier Russ Henshaw from competing at the first major event of the new year.
With the Northern Hemisphere World Cup season kicking off this weekend in Font Romeu, France, Henshaw is eager to get back into international competition.
This World Cup marks the Sochi 2014 Olympian’s first competition in almost a year, after a difficult run of injuries and rehabilitation.
However, despite a less than optimal lead up to the occasion due to weather conditions at a training camp in Austria, the Sydney-born skier isn’t fazed about his returning event.
“I haven’t competed in almost a year now which has been pretty crazy and unfortunate because of the injuries that I’ve had,” Henshaw said.
“But I feel refreshed and ready to go.
“It will be interesting to see how I go with the jumps in Font Romeu, but saying that I have done a few jumps here [in Austria] and it doesn’t feel like I’ve had a day off snow.
“I feel fit; I’ve been doing a lot of road biking so my legs feel really strong.”
Growing up in Jindabyne in southern New South Wales, Henshaw was raised on the ski slopes and begun competing at just six years-old.
Starting out as a race skier, Henshaw then made the switch to freestyle skiing when he started “having more fun jumping off things.”
“I found myself, on the way down to the [race] course, taking all the side carts and detours for the jumps and cliffs. My mind wasn’t in racing anymore,” said the 26-year-old.
By the time Henshaw was 14, he was solely focused on slope and big air.
However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the dual World Championship medallist, who is no stranger to injury.
He tore his ACL in 2011, and in order to speed up his recovery, his father donated part of his hamstring.
Less than two year later, fresh off a silver medal at the Copper Mountain World Cup, Henshaw tore the same ACL but opted for rehabilitation instead of surgery with the Olympics just 12 months away.
This gamble ultimately paid off as Henshaw made his Olympic debut at Sochi in Russia, entering the history books as Australia's sole male competitor in the debut event of Ski Slopestyle.
Despite his rocky run into the Games, Henshaw bounced back, easily qualifying for the final.
Knowing he needed to pull off a triple cork to be in medal contention, Henshaw gave it everything he had but ran out of room on the landing to score 28.80, finishing eighth behind American Trio Joss Christensen (95.80), Gus Kenworthy (93.60), and Nick Goepper (92.40).
Despite countless injuries, Henshaw has never thought twice about his sporting career choice.
“At the end of the day, what we do is a dangerous sport.
“You can try and be as careful as you can and take the most precautions that you can… If you crash, sometimes you get away with it and sometimes you don’t.”
“But this is what I love doing, so I just want to keep doing it.”
The 2015 FIS World Championship silver medallist is now working towards qualifying for his second Olympic Games, he says staying relaxed and cool is the way to get there.
“I just need to keep calm and collected and not get too wound up in all the media hype.
“I need to make sure I’m having fun; that’s the biggest thing. When I ride well I’m usually having a good time, so just make sure I’m having fun with it.”
Traveling through America and Europe with his fiancé Laura helps keep Henshaw’s head in the game.
“I am lucky enough that I have my fiancé with me and she handles all the bookings, flights, accommodation and the logistics side of things so I can just focus on skiing.
“It is hard being away from my family, but at the end of the day this is what I love doing and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Following this weekend’s competition, Henshaw is down to compete at another six World Cup events before the end of March, before returning to Australia for a small break.