From Sheffield To Sölden: Introducing James ‘Woodsy’ Woods

James ‘Woodsy’ Woods became a freestyle skier in an unconventional fashion, having at times to live ‘out of his backpack’. Now, he’s an extreme sports athlete represented by Monster. We found out more about Woodsy’s story at the Audi Nines event in Austria, Sölden.

Upbringing

What do the beginnings of a professional freestyle skier look like? Perhaps trotting off to school in Moonboots Monday to Friday before hitting the snowy mountains Saturday and Sunday.

Not in James Woods’ case. For him, it was the city of steel, Sheffield, and the Yorkshire Dales, with the helping hand of a nearby dry ski slope.

A different route

Woodsy began learning tricks and jumps from the age of 10 on Sheffield’s dry slope, but he was well aware of its limitations of skiing on what is essentially an enormous toothbrush.

He left the city of steal behind him to train in Austria while taking his GCSEs. His parents thought he was running off to do drugs on the mountains but Woodsy was always thinking one step ahead. He continued his training in Colorado whilst studying his A-levels online.

“All I wanted to do was get away from everybody and do my own thing. I skateboarded for years, surfing, skydiving, skiing. I’m not one for exactly holding back.”

If you hold back at an event like Audi Nines, where the ramps and jumps are, frankly, enormous, it’s only going to end badly.

Lessons

Confronting the risks involved with freestyle skiing requires an extraordinary level of mental strength, something that comes naturally to Woodsy. But technical improvement takes a lot of hard work. For inspiration, he openly borrows aspects from the snowboarding world and their methods of training.

“Having the ski and snowboard cross guys here brings a whole new dynamic to the situation. Initially, we got a long run, we have a got a lot of brand new features and the other main thing is that we got the chance to get to know the crossers on a personal level.

They bring a new aspect into it with the way they look at features and the way they ride them including the big jump at the bottom. The speed they are taking and the way they are taking off it’s all very different. It keeps my mind fresh and makes me look at things in a slightly different way.”

Woodsy also praised the comradery of the skiing community, who provide advice, encouragement and perfect their form by watching each other compete.

Competition

Woodsy headed into Audi Nines with 17 major medals and two Olympic games behind him, having only just missed out on a podium finish in Pyeongchang this year, the Briton was a strong contender for a medal in Solden.

He managed to bag a silver medal with a Triple Cork 1440 Safety and Switch Triple Cork 1440 Octo narrowly losing out on a first-place finish to Switzerland’s, Andri Ragettl.

Woodsy’s calm and upbeat manner after the results were announced suggested he wasn’t too disappointed. He attributes this to being in the sport for the enjoyment and living the dream of a freestyle skier rather than competing to constantly improve his medal count.

But the 26-year-old’s natural talent combined with his mental strength suggests there’s plenty more to come, and if all goes well, the Monster athlete could well be on the Olympic podium come the 2022 Beijing Games.

“I’d honestly say there are no rules and there is no set way of doing it the right way. Just follow what feels right. If you follow what people tell you to do day-to-day it’s not going to work; you’ve got to do you and the best you can, that’s the best way to set yourself up”.