Get To Know: James “Woodsy” Woods
It’s fair to say that James “Woodsy” Woods has had a pretty amazing season so far. For years he has been a leading light on the GB Park & Pipe programme and will be a key athlete to watch in PyeongChang 2018.
Digital Editor Joe Troman caught up with Woodsy on one of the rare occasions that he was in the UK last month. Fresh off the back of a successful series of competitions in Canada and the US Woodsy talks competitions, the Olympics and down days…
JT: Hey Woodsy how’s it going?
Woodsy: Good, man! How’re you?
JT: Not too bad thank you! You’ve just touched down from Canada and the US, how’s the jetlag?
Woodsy: All gravy, it hasn’t hit me yet haha!
JT: Returned with a decent amount of silverware this time though?
Woodsy: [smiles broadly] Yeah, pumped! I mean things are really good and I’m in a really good place.
JT: Clearly X-Games was a highlight of your season and career so far. After so many years of aiming for that top step how did it feel finally climbing that podium all the way to the top?
Woodsy: Yeah, goodness me. Obviously X-Games is such a huge event for me, and from the action sports side of things it’s the pinnacle of that whole world. So to bring it all together in an X Games final was fantastic, that really is something.
That’s given me a lot of confidence, not that I didn’t have it before but to be current, to be relevant, to be competing well, making finals, landing runs is a massive boost. Learning how to do that, and to win, and becoming comfortable in that is obviously really quite important. The confidence it gives you is pretty mega, it’s a pretty cool club [to be a part of].
JT: You mentioned X-Games is the pinnacle in action sports, does the Olympics compare in terms of status? Are you just as excited for 2018?
Woodsy: Absolutely! I mean, the Olympics is the Olympics. It’s massive. It is so cool that we get the opportunity to go. That was my initial reaction, and it still is now; just “isn’t this going to be sick.”
Just as X-Games is the pinnacle of my world, The Olympics is the pinnacle of THE world. It’s exposing all of us, myself included, to a whole new realm of people of interest, and that’s really exciting.
JT: Sports like track cycling will often work in 4 year Olympic cycles. Do you feel that the Team GB Park and Pipe Programme is pushing towards or is the approach the same every year?
Woodsy: That’s an interesting question. We definitely are leading up to the Olympics, you know I definitely see that.
Obviously the Olympics has got that prestige about it, just in the fact that it’s every 4 years. So it does bring a certain something, just in that sense, I’m talking literally on a competitive side of things. It’s every 4 years, so it does shift your thinking. Going in to that third year, you think “I do actually have to qualify points”, I have to do well at events that maybe would not be prioritised in the past, you know what I mean?
So it does shift your thinking towards the Olympics, but I’m very much a day-to-day, week to week kind of person. I compete all the time, and its great fun, always travelling, moving around and staying focussed on the next thing, with short-term goals.
The Olympics is creeping up, and that’s in the headlights definitely, but there’s a whole lot to do before then.
JT: You mentioned you have a pretty packed schedule this season, does that tire you out or is it something that you thrive off?
Woodsy: Both, very much so. I definitely thrive off it, I love it so much, and the travelling is wonderful. It’s an amazing life that I get to live, but it’s knackering!
JT: How do you find being involved in the world class GB Park & Pipe programme?
Woodsy: It’s amazing to be part of the whole Team GB programme. From the free-ski and snowboard side of things, it’s (Exhales) wow, we are doing really really well, the whole crew! It’s interesting to think about it as a team, because these are my friends from all over the place, all different countries. But it’s amazing to see the guys from the UK all coming together at the same time, all doing really well.
JT: Do you feel that is a driver for your success?
Woodsy: I mean nothing is going to change the pressure I put on myself, and my motivation to push my own skiing.
JT: Away from the competition side of thing you have quite a lot going on. You had your first “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour this year, how was that?
Woodsy: I’m really excited about the Mad Dogs tour, I’m glad you bought that up. That’s something I’d been wanting to do for ages, I saw a little window of opportunity this summer and within a week it was happening. It was something that had been brewing in my mind for ages and I was like “Oh my goodness, this could be a great time to send it.” It’s something I want to do in lots of different capacities, hopefully look for the Mad Dogs name creeping up a little more which would be my dream, obviously I’ve got a lot going on in my life at the moment but one of these days hopefully that’s going to come in.
JT: You’re always popping up on SLVSH too…
SLVSH is so great; I think it’s the greatest thing in our sport right now. The boys are doing so well at it and I think it’s really the core essence of what we do. The boys are getting together and obviously skiing like champions and creating some amazing content. I haven’t heard of anyone that dislikes it or anybody that doesn’t have great things to say about all the games. I back it completely. And people seem to like me reffing!
JT: Projects like SLVSH and exposure from the Olympics are bringing the sport to new engaged audiences. As one of the original “Fridge Kids”, what would you say to a young gun trying to get in to the sport?
Woodsy: Any day you can get on your skis or snowboard is amazing. I went to Sheffield Ski Village all the time, every day. I loved it, and I think that’s the essence of it really. Do stuff that you love, whether it’s skiing, snowboarding, skating, anything to do with anything. Having a good time is pretty essential, but working hard is important too.
It all depends on where you want to go but it’s that balance between loving it – having a great time when you’re doing it and enjoying every second of it – and also having that hard working ethic.
JT: You mentioned skating there. On your down days is this something you do, what do you do when you’re not on skis?
Woodsy: I do enjoy skateboarding, it’s really fun for me and obviously very accessible. But my main favourite thing is to go surfing. When the winter is done I like to get a trip in and just get in to that completely new environment and surf as much as I can, just all day every day, put my OC-DC in to something other than skiing.
JT: Finally in 2014, you shaved a Union Flag in to the side of your head, any hair flamboyance we can expect for 2018?
Woodsy: Haha well, it was a pretty spur of the moment thing so I don’t know what’s going on. I just had my first real haircut, ever, so I’m tripping out about how long my hair was in the past, but we will see I don’t know.
I’d hate to disappoint people, but I don’t think the flag is coming back!