The dad of Sheffield Olympian James Woods says he still feels like his son is a medal winner despite finishing fifth.
An injury-ravaged run saw the 22-year-old miss out on a medal in the freestyle slopestyle skiing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
‘Woodsy’ fell during practice, damaging his hip – and kept the extent of the injury from nearly everyone, including dad Chris.
It was not until the event ended that people became aware how much pain the Crosspool man was in – with James admitting that, had it not been the Olympics, he would have pulled out.
Having qualified for the final, the competition was so fierce an incredible run would have been needed to get into the medal places – but James was not physically capable of it.
However, there was no disappointment in the Woods household, with James one of two sporting stars – brother Philip is on a football scholarship at Missouri State University in the USA.
Chris said: “I’ve said for years that I couldn’t be more proud of him and his brother because of the way they have driven their own sporting careers.
“They have seen so committed and enthusiastic and nice guys too and that, as a parent, is all you want.
“He had a clean run in the qualifiers, a clean run in the final and showed the world what he could do.
“With the injury it meant he couldn’t go for it, so coming fifth, for me, was the equivalent of medalling.”
James had emailed his family, and, although he admitted he was injured, did not say how badly.
Chris said: “He said he had been to see the doctors and had ice baths and was fine. We thought there hadn’t been such a hangover as there obviously was when the competition came about – as a child you don’t tell your parents everything.”
There was a bittersweet feeling for Chris though, as he admitted James and fellow slopestyle skier Katie Summerhayes would be the last in the sport to be developed in Sheffield following the closure of the city’s ski village.
Chris said: “I’ve no idea what the ins and outs are about Sheffield Ski Village but it is such a shame the Woodsys and Katies aren’t going to be coming from this city any more.”
“James spent any minute of every day there – in summer holidays he was there all day doing that stuff. There was a whole community with a team spirit and they all developed and adding the Castleford trip means that you have to have parents who have the time and the petrol money to not just take them and hang around. As a parent, I’ve spent more time hanging around – I’m an expert at flasks of tea and crosswords in the car.
“At Sheffield you could drop them off and leave them and come back later and pick them up.
“There were problems with bits sticking up and you could hurt your thumbs on the grid, but for what it was, it was great.”
And Chris has called on parents to get their kids involved in the sport, nonetheless, citing the spirit and camaraderie among the competitors as a refreshing change to the ‘winning is everything’ mantra that often blights some sports.
“It’s a remarkable sport because of how friendly the competitors are,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see the sportsmanship and friendship. It’s a bit like Steven Gerrard scoring a great goal from outside the box and John Terry going over and shaking his hand...it wouldn’t happen, but in slopestyle it does. If you put in a good run, then everyone will congratulate you.
“We always gave them (James and Phil) the licence to do what they can – any other parents out there, take them to the Snowdome in Castleford and let them go out and enjoy it and get fit.”