James Woods: The Sheffield freestyle skier gunning for Olympic gold in Pyeongchang

James is gunning for gold in South Korea. Picture: PA
James is gunning for gold in South Korea. Picture: PA
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Sheffield daredevil skier James Woods is gunning for gold as he bids to become Olympic champion in Pyeongchang.

The thrill-seeking poster boy knows the dangers of freestyle all too well, but he is determined to put on a show at the Winter Olympics for his friends and family.

James Woods at the Sochi games in 2014. Picture: PA.

James Woods at the Sochi games in 2014. Picture: PA.

The city daredevil is one of Team GB's best medal hopes and James, more commonly known as 'Woodsey', begins his title quest this weekend in South Korea.

He's come along way from the dry slopes of Sheffield Ski Village and many are expected to stay up through the early hours of Sunday morning to see if he can clinch Gold.

The 26-year-old is still close to a core group of friends at home in the Steel City, one of whom works in Aldi and was recently putting up posters in the supermarket which sponsors Team GB.

Woods, a former Tapton School pupil, who competes in the ski slopestyle at Phoenix Snow Park on Sunday, said: "This is an extreme sport. We live on the edge day and night.

James in Pyeongchang. Picture: James Woods/Twitter

James in Pyeongchang. Picture: James Woods/Twitter

"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 who have passed away. It's that feeling they're always there with you, they've always got your back."

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.

And still frequents the same Broomhill pub when he's off the slopes and back in Sheffield to unwind.

James Woods at the Sochi games in 2014. Picture: PA.

James Woods at the Sochi games in 2014. Picture: PA.

"I've got this core group of 10, 12 guys. They're just amazing," Woods added.

"Every time we go back we still go to the same pub, The Notty (Nottingham) House.

"One of the lads works at Aldi. He had to put up my posters the other day. That was funny.

"My relationship with my parents has definitely evolved since I was a kid, thinking that I wanted to run off to the mountains and do drugs.

"They're quite proud of what I do. I've done it all by myself and it's a whole new world."

Windswept conditions affected the snowboard slopestyle events earlier this week, a competition Briton 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 likes to escape, with Voss in Norway his favoured skydiving location and Indonesia his chosen surfing retreat.

The inclusion of his discipline in the Olympics - this is the second appearance, after Sochi - has brought the likes of Woods to the attention of a new audience.

"It's that counter-culture, renegade lifestyle that is appealing," Woods added.

"That's why I got into it. I was not a fan of the norm. All I wanted to do was get away from everybody and do my own thing.

"It's really interesting for us coming into the Olympics now, because it's not the world that we've come from.

"The main priority is trying to inspire the younger generation to get outside."

Sochi, when ski slopestyle made its Olympic debut, did not go to plan for Woods.

The dream for Woods here is to perform at his optimum, be totally satisfied with his display, and accept the result.

He added: "All being well I'm going to put down the run of my life here and it will be wonderful. I will gracefully, respectfully accept the position that I'm given."

Watch the Sheffield ski hopeful in the men’s slopestyle heats which on Sunday, February 18, at 1am on BBC1.

The finals will begin at 4am UK time the same day, but don’t worry if you can’t wake up that early – there will be highlights and repeats on both the BBC and Eurosport throughout the day.