Wrong Birthplace, Right Attitude: James Woods
For years, James "Woodsy" Woods declined invites to X Games Big Air and concentrated on Slopestyle. "Going back and forth between the two disciplines seemed like too much," says Woods, who owns Slopestyle bronze from Aspen 2013 and Norway 2017. "A year ago , though, I decided I really wanted to do X Games Big Air. I put a lot of effort into getting that invite, and it happened once I shifted my focus and put my mind to it. I just accepted that I would have a busy week."
While Slopestyle has become a game of calculated perfection, Big Air plays more to Woods' strengths: It rewards personality and risk-taking, both of which Woods has in spades. "Big Air is more of a show, and I love shows," Woods explains. "I actually ski for that, doing backflips for the crowd and putting on an amazing show. That's my favorite thing about this whole sport."
Woods made the most of his XG Aspen 2017 Big Air invite, surprising most everyone by edging four-time XG Big Air champ Henrik Harlaut in a tie-breaker for his first gold. "I didn't even know that I was even battling with Henrik," says Woods. "I was in the zone."
Woods' rise to ski stardom has been from unlikely beginnings. While his peers honed their skills as kids at world class resorts, Woods was a "dry-slope" grom from Great Britain -- he grew up skiing on artificial turf in the moors of England.
He's the first skier from the UK to win XG gold, and he may have a new favorite discipline. "Big Air is just bang, bang, bang. It's such fast action, and you can fall because you only need two jumps to get a score," Woods says. "Slopestyle is about perfection. One mistake and you're done. You're at the top waiting for an hour wondering, 'How do I engineer perfection?'"
Only Bobby Brown has won X Games Ski Slopestyle and Big Air in the same year (2010), and just three have won Ski Slopestyle and Big Air during their careers. Only Henrik Harlaut has captured Big Air in back-to-back X Games.
Despite history working against him, Woods will enter XG Aspen 2018 as a favorite for gold in both Big Air and Slopestyle. If he does win, it'll be bangers and mash for all.
James Woods returns for X Games Aspen 2018, with invites to compete in Men's Ski Slopestyle and Big Air.
Follow James Woods on Instagram for the latest on his Star Wars collection, and oh yeah, freeskiing.