SHEFFIELD’S James Woods has emerged as Great Britain’s next big Olympic medal hope after claiming the nation’s first snowsport World Cup win in eight years in Ushuaia, Argentina yesterday.
The 20-year-old made a spectacular start to the new Slopestyle season, producing a thrilling display to finish clear in first place with a score of 90.4 and collect valuable points towards qualification for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
Woods, whose sights are set on Sochi where Slopestyle - in which skiers are judged on freestyle manoeuvres on a downhill course filled with jumps and rails - will feature for the first time, said the inspiration of London 2012 had spurred him on.
Woods said: “I was invited to London 2012 as part of the Olympic Ambition programme and seeing how it can inspire a nation has made me incredibly driven for the build-up to Sochi.
“I had not had a major competition win in my career but I had made the podium in other events so I knew I had it in me. This is an important time in the whole Olympic programme and I am very excited to get started like this.”
Woods’ success will raise hopes that Britain’s Winter Olympic squad can build on the unprecedented success of the summer Olympians and Paralympians. Skeleton star Amy Williams won Britain’s only medal in the 2010 Vancouver Games.
GB Freeski manager Pat Sharples said: “This is a huge win for James. Slopestyle was only added to the Olympic programme a year ago so to be out there as World Cup leader is a great way to start off the winter.
“James has worked harder than anyone else and I knew he had the ability to do it. His was a real stand-out performance and it will give confidence to the whole team and help us move forward towards the Olympics.”