Oscar Wester wins Jon Olsson Invitational
JOI's 10th Year
Jon Olsson's annual Invitational Big Air contest wrapped up its 10th year this weekend in re, Sweden. Swedish phenom Oscar Wester took the overall win against a stacked field of competitors.
It was the first major career win for 18-year-old Swede Oscar Wester, the younger brother to more well-known freeskier Jacob Wester. Oscar competed in slopestyle at the Sochi Winter Olympics, but didn't qualify for the finals. At JOI, he proved he has what it takes to hang with the most elite freeskiers in the world.
As is traditional at the Jon Olsson Invitational, the big air contest ran side by side with a dual slalom race, which was won by Leif Kristain Haugen for the men and Julia Mancuso for the women.
Event founder Jon Olsson is a former X Games medalist in halfpipe, big air and slopestyle, but in recent years, he's switched his focus to ski racing for his home country of Sweden. He still occasionally comes out of freeskiing retirement to compete in a big air contest, but for his own event, he was a behind-the-scenes guy, not a competitor.
Oscar Wester won the contest with a triple 1620 with a safety grab, beating out Sweden's Jesper Tjder, who got second place with a switch triple rodeo 1260, and Switzerland's Fabian Bsch, who took third place with a switch double 1440.
American Torin Yater-Wallace just missed the podium with a fourth place finish in the big air contest.
Triple The Action
High winds originally threatened to postpone the contest, but qualifications were held on Friday and finals on Saturday as scheduled. During practice, Joss Christensen, Robby Franco and Alex Bellemare all attempted triples off the jump, which as Jon Olsson wrote, "cemented suspicions of the competition being decided by those crazy enough to commit to the triple."
"I can't believe how much this sport has progressed over the past 10 years," says Jon Olsson. "Every year I keep thinking that there is no way that the riders can push it harder, but every year they surprise me and do things that I never thought was possible."
PK Hunder from Norway checks out the big air jump prior to Saturday's finals. Hunder took 10th place in the qualifiers.
Local's favorite and Sweden's own Henrik Harlaut ranked third in Friday's qualifiers but didn't manage to make the podium in finals.
Athletes gather around during qualifiers. "As for what the future holds for JOI we will see what happens," says Jon Olsson, "but there are a lot plans being thrown around..."