Sheffield ski star jumps to the defence of slopestyle

Great Britain's James Woods in the Men's Ski Slopestyle event during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games
Great Britain's James Woods in the Men's Ski Slopestyle event during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games
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Great Britain’s ski and snowboard slopestyle stars are continuing to champion their discipline after last month’s suggestions from a leading International Olympic Committee official that it was too dangerous for inclusion on the Winter Games programme.

The comments from the IOC’s head of scientific activities Lars Engebretsen came as a surprise after what many saw as a highly successful slopestyle programme in Sochi in February, despite some initial complaints over the quality at the course at Rosa Khutor Extreme Park.

Large crowds were present for most of the events, which yielded particular success for Great Britain with Jenny Jones claiming a snowboard bronze medal and a number of other top-level performances including final places for the likes of Sheffield’s James Woods and Katie Summerhayes, Billy Morgan and Jamie Nicholl.

Overall World Cup winner Woods has stepped up to lead the defence after Engebretsen appeared to cast doubt over the continued inclusion of a sport which was making its debut in the 2014 programme.

Woods, from Crosspool said: “In my opinion saying that slopestyle is too dangerous is crazy.

“I will admit that this is a sport like no other, where risk assessment is a factor that influences all your decisions.

“However, to single out slopestyle as excessively high risk, especially when measuring it up against some other Olympic winter sports, makes no sense.

“When taking part in a sport you assume the risks involved and then it is passion and a self motivation that pushes people to strive and success, which is as it always has been.”

While a couple of Engebretsen’s fellow Norwegians, Torstein Horgmo and Kjersti Buaas, suffered Games-ending injuries, they paled into insignificance compared with the likes of ski-cross, in which Russian athlete Maria Komissarova was left permanently paralysed after a crash in training.

Snowboard slopestyle star Morgan added: “I think to remove slopestyle from the Olympics would be a shame after it was such a successful event in Sochi.

“The risks we take are calculated and understood and I’m pretty sure I can speak for most slopestyle athletes when I say that without these risks there would be no appeal for us to take part.”