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28 January 2013

X Games Bronze for British Slopestyle star James Woods

Woodsy backs up back-to-back World Cup victories with a podium finish in Aspen

Winter X Games 2013 came to a close in Aspen, Colorado last night, and once again dished out an action-packed four days of freestyle skiing and snowboarding, as well as motorised action sports such as freestyle snowmobiling.

Shaun White stamped his authority on the final night, winning the Men’s Snowboard Superpipe event. Again. During the Men’s Ski Big Air on Saturday there were tricks that have never before been attempted in competition (Henrik Harlaut’s nose-butter triple cork 1620). But for British skiers, there was one man to watch, and it was the 21-year old James Woods of Sheffield.

James Woods after qualifying in first place. Video: FreeskierMagazine

‘Woodsy’, who took third place in Men’s Ski Slopestyle in Tignes two years ago, has been in dominant form this season, topping the podium with back-to-back gold medals in the first two FIS World Cup Slopestyle events. Two weeks after his second historic World Cup win at Copper Mountain, Woods once again showed he’s the man to beat, posting the best score in the Slopestyle elimination round on Friday 25 January. It was the first time that a Brit has been invited to compete at the prestigious invite-only event. “Being invited and given the opportunity to finally prove myself at the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado is my biggest dream in the world coming true. I am so happy it is impossible to describe!" said Woods before the event.

James Woods on course at X Games

If Woodsy was feeling the pressure of qualifying in top spot he certainly wasn’t showing it, posting on his Twitter account on the eve of the finals, “Feet up, watching xgames BIG AIR!! So excited for slopestyle tomorrow”. The chirpy freestyle skier, who was introduced to the sport at Sheffield Ski Village, lined up with the best freestyle skiers in the world on Sunday afternoon for the three-run finals. At this level the judges are looking for variety of tricks, including spinning and flipping in both directions and both forward and switch take-offs and landings, as well as technical perfection and using a range of rail, box and air features on the course.

After the first two runs Woods sat in second place with 91.33, just one point shy of Nick Goepper. He dropped one place in the third run when Henrik Harlaut edged ahead with a 92.66 and Goepper extended his lead by scoring 94.00. Woodsy rose to the occasion and bettered his first run score with a 92.00, but it wasn’t quite enough and he remained in third to take home bronze. It simply couldn’t have been much closer between the top competitors.

While X Games does not have any impact on the World Cup standings, it has long been considered by many (particularly the athletes themselves) to be the “Olympics” of freestyle skiing and snowboarding, long before FIS and the Winter Games embraced these disciplines. A bronze medal in Aspen is no doubt another career highlight for Woodsy in what is turning out to be a stellar season in the run up to Sochi 2014.

James Woods' final run which scored 92.00 and landed him in the bronze medal spot on the podium.

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