Winter Olympics: Right on the edge is where James Woods needs to be

Sheffield's James Woods (Picture: PA).
Sheffield's James Woods (Picture: PA).
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Thrill-seeking poster boy James Woods knows the dangers of freestyle skiing all too well, but he is determined to put on a show at the Winter Olympics for his friends and family.

The 26-year-old is still close to a core group of friends at home in Sheffield, one of whom works in Aldi and was recently putting up posters in the supermarket that sponsors Team GB, featuring the man universally known as ‘Woodsy’.

There are other friends in the freestyle skiing fraternity who have tragically died in the course of what they do, like Tom Campbell, Sarah Burke, CR Johnson and JP Auclair.

Woods, who competes in the ski slopestyle at Phoenix Snow Park in the early hours of tomorrow morning, said: “This is an extreme sport. We live on the edge day and night.

“Slopestyle is one small aspect of free skiing as a whole. There’s a lot of dangerous stuff that goes on. We’re all very aware of the risks involved.

“A few of my friends have passed away. It’s that feeling they’re always there with you, they’ve always got your back.”

Windswept conditions affected the snowboard slopestyle events earlier this week, a competition fellow Yorkshire athlete Katie Ormerod did not even reach as she suffered a fractured wrist and severely fractured heel in training.

Woods, who finished fifth at the 2014 Sochi Games with a “dog awful run” after sustaining a hip injury in training, recognises the challenges.

He added: “My hobbies are surfing and skydiving. I’m not one for exactly holding back. It’s all calculated risk.

“It may seem dare-devilish and extreme, maybe it is, but very much more calculated than my mum gives me credit for.”

Woods thanked his parents, brother and friends for their support, for helping him to realise his ambitions, which have seen his face adorn supermarket posters because of his multiple successes at World Cups, World Championships and the X-Games.

“I’ve got this core group of 10, 12 guys. They’re just amazing,” added Woods.

Woods is joined in ski slopestyle by Halifax’s Tyler Harding while fellow Sheffielder Katie Summerhayes contests the women’s event in the early hours of this morning.