Sheffield’s reigning World Cup skiing champion James Woods has hailed the controversial Olympic slopestyle course in Sochi as “amazing”.
The Rosa Khutor Extreme Park came in for heavy criticism from several snowboarders this week, with the safety of the course called into question when Norwegian medal prospect Torstein Horgmo broke a collarbone after a fall while practising on one of the rails on Monday.
Revered snowboarder Shaun White then pulled out of the slopestyle event less than 24 hours before the qualifiers were due to start after earlier describing the course as “intimidating” and “a challenge”. However, slopestyle skier Woods has a different opinion.
“It’s amazing. Every time we get to an event it’s different and that’s the point,” he said.
“People think that different’s bad, initially, but it’s not. You’ve got to give it time, we’ve got tons of training time.
“Yes, this course is big, the rails are technical. Yes, it’s difficult but you really would not want anything else. It’s fantastic.”
Changes have already been made to the course after feedback from the riders, but Woods believes the hype surrounding the layout is unnecessary.
“It’s the Olympics, I think it’s very easy for things to get blown out of proportion. We get to a new course and it’s like ‘whoa this is different’. Honestly, this is one of the best courses that we’ve ever been going on, in my opinion.”
The 22-year-old Woods is one of Britain’s brightest prospects in Sochi and he is relishing the chance to show what he is capable of.
“I’m loving it. Yes the kickers are big, but it’s wicked. Without a doubt, it’s a fantastic canvas for some mega free-skiing and snowboarding, it’s going to be good,” he said.
Woods, who won silver and bronze medals at last year’s World Championships and Winter X Games respectively, is coy about his chances of a podium finish in the debut ski slopestyle event at his first ever Olympic Games.
“I just want to get out there and show everyone what I’ve got,” he said.