Russ Henshaw is the Winter Olympian who almost never was. Born and raised in Sydney in the early 1990s, Russ seemed destined for the city life. But courtesy of an off-the-cuff family vacation to the snow at the ripe old age of four, Mr and Mrs Henshaw soon discovered their hyperactive toddler had a special gift.
They relocated the entire family to Jindabyne and by the age of 14 – with countless Australian slalom wins to his name – Russ discovered freestyle skiing. He contested his first international competition in New Zealand soon after against the best freestyle skiers of the era, and having finished third with a specialist trainer now on board, Russ found himself in Austria contesting the coveted European circuit.
And this is where the Russ we know, the World Cup, Dew Tour and X Games champion, really started to emerge. With the unwavering support of his close-knit family and an easy-going nature that hid his competitive spirit perfectly, Russ became a force to be reckoned with in the quickly emerging discipline of slopestyle – a sport that merges the heights of ski-jumping with the flamboyance of skateboarding. Basically, it’s a real-life version of a videogame many never thought possible.
A part of the contingent to debut slopestyle at the Winter Olympics in Sochi 2014, Russ has not just witnessed the sport’s growth but been an integral part of it, starring in a number of definitive films such as the 2015 Legs of Steel offering Passenger.