Hotshot Aussie freeskier celebrates birthday by beating Bobby Brown

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An Australian Red Bull team mate of defending champion Bobby Brown of the United States has won the men’s slopestyle at New Zealand’s Freeski Open. 

Hotshot Australian Russ Henshaw celebrated his 20th birthday on Friday by winning the event at Cardrona, near Wanaka. 

Brown was second and American Gus Kenworthy came third. 

Henshaw won with clean, back-to-back double corks – the first a left-side double cork 1080 followed by a right-side double cork 12.

“This is the first time in a slopestyle competition that we’ve seen back-to-back double corks,” Kiwi judge Dion Newport says. “The level of riding was higher than at the X Games and just keeps progressing.”

Wanaka’s Byron Wells – who is more focused on Saturday’s upcoming halfpipe, which is his specialty – came 15th while Matt Soundy of Queenstown was 22nd. 

Byron’s older brother Jossi Wells, the reigning freeski world champion did not take part due to injury.

In the women’s slopestyle, judges were wowed by the performance of Canada’s Kim Lamarre. 

Despite earlier crashes she nailed her final run, executing a difficult switch zero spin off the big 75-foot kicker. 

“We knew Kim was a great skier, but she pulled out an incredibly difficult trick by going off the main kicker switch with no spin and landing it perfectly,” judge Newport says. “She separated herself from the rest of the field today.”

Australian Anna Segal was second and Canada’s Megan Gunning was third.