Woodsy is one of the hottest names on everyone’s lips right now. Following a blistering summer season in the southern hemisphere and a tour of the UK with some of the other biggest names in freestyle skiing, this month he took home gold in the X Games Big Air with a massive triple 1440 octo grab! Impressive, eh?! But while it’s impressive enough that Woodsy is first male brit to top the podium at X Games Aspen, the fact that he grew up on a dry slope in Sheffield, England, just makes his story even more legendary. We caught up with him earlier in January to talk about his remarkable journey and his latest outerwear signing to our friends at Planks.
So, Woodsy, how do you get from Sheffield Ski Village [dry slope in the north of England] to where you are now, competing on the world stage?
It’s a journey for sure, and that’s all part of it. I love it and I’m really proud to have done it, but nothing ever really stopped. I always just wanted to ski ever since I figured out what it was.
That evolution started from going to the skate park every day to going to the dry slope every day – it’s everything I ever wanted to do. There was very little else to focus on in Sheffield, where I was growing up, and skiing just became an obsession and a passion. I don’t think it’s as wild or as complicated as it seems because really I was just dedicated to skiing and everything about it drew me in and it’s all I wanted to do.
Photo Courtesy of Planks Clothing
If you look back to that time in comparison to where the sport of freesking has progressed to now, certainly in the UK, a lot of the riders that were coming up at the time are now the guys running the show and pushing the sport from behind the scenes. Who from that period has inspiring you and pushed you in your career?
Just the UK scene on the whole! Being able to go to events like the Westbeach Snowflex Tour, The Aim Series – the fact that there was a real thing going on and there was a real buzz around skiing and snowboarding. I think that in itself was really inspiring. To be a part of something that was pretty big, and to have a whole bunch of new friends that were outside of school, that was a pretty big deal for me.
As far as helping me out, the major input was from Pat Sharples [now Team GB’s Head Freeski Coach]. He’s been my best friend for like 14 years or so, and nobody deserves the credit for helping me get to this stage more than him. He’s helped me out in every aspect. Not just in skiing, but growing as a person too – I very much owe a lot to Sharpy.
We’re now in the middle of the qualification cycle for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang South Korea. With that in mind, what are your goals and aspirations this season? Is that the goal or are you just taking it one event at a time?
The Olympics is fantastic – it’s a huge deal in the public eye you know – it’s very much in my sights. I want to compete at the Olympics and I want to do well at it. It’s pretty funny though, because there’s so much more to skiing than just going to the Olympics that’s kinda getting overlooked pretty rapidly. Every day I go skiing and I love what I’m doing. Going to the Olympics would just be the icing on the cake really.
I’ve got to qualify first, I’ve got to get myself in a good ranking to make sure I’m there and I will put effort into it for sure. But as far as my focus is concerned, I just want to carry on living this amazing life – being able to do exactly what I want to do every single day and make the most of doing it.
Photo Courtesy of Planks Clothing
We just had the first Dew Tour in December in Colorado – a brand new format. How do you feel about that?
It was a new format for the Dew Tour, breaking up big air and rails. It was good fun. I’ve competed in the Dew Tour for a few years now. I think I was second in the big air…? I had a wobble on the rails though, which was a shame.
But, I think on the whole, coming out of any event, you’ve just got to look at the big picture. That first event of the year is a pretty big deal – assessing what the judges want to see, what the other riders are doing, how productive you’ve been during the summer. Did I have too much holiday? Did I not have enough? I think I played it pretty good this summer though.
Photo Courtesy of Neil MacGrain
Last time we spoke was here in our store in Edinburgh on your Maddogs tour in October. How did the rest of the tour go? What was it like coming home and revisiting the scene that you emerged from?
The Maddogs tour was fantastic. I’m really proud to of had the opportunity to have done it – it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. The biggest thing I took away from it was that it was very much a two-way street.
For the kids riding at the slope, it was an opportunity for them to get to see, meet and ride with some of the best in the world at their local slope and see that they’re real people. They’re just like them, except they just tried really hard, and now they’re where they are.
But maybe the biggest impact was on the pros. For them to see the guys in the UK, to get inspired by the younger crowd battling through the dry slope scene just doing anything they can to ski. I think there was a lot of inspiration getting thrown about both ways.
You’ve just signed to Planks, another product of the UK ski scene. How did that relationship come about? What has the future got in store for you guys?
I’ve known Jim, the owner of Planks, for a very long time now. Jim was one of those skiers watching when I was growing up and it’s really cool to work with him. But what’s really funny is that I actually rode for Planks back when they were just making beanies and a couple of T shirts – when it was just something fun. I say “riding” for Planks – ha ha – I would get boxes of beanies and T Shirts and sell them for a 50/50 split with Jim! So, it’s really nice to come back to them.
Basically, what happened was that I was bought out by Quiksilver for a time and I had to leave pretty much all the sponsors that I had and all the brands that were helping me out. I don’t regret that at all – it was a big decision for me and Quiksilver gave me a lot of opportunities to help forward my career and certainly helped me get to where I am now. But once that contract finished up, it was really liberating to have that freedom to do what I wanted again, and I thought it’d be really cool to talk to Planks.
I’d seen them getting bigger and bigger over the years and thought it would be ace to get involved, bring it back to the UK, and hopefully, with where I’ve come to in my career, give back to a UK brand that has put their heart and soul in to skiing. Try to give the products what we can, inspire the right people, and put the right vibe on it.
What was quite funny was that, when I was speaking to a few of my friends about it, I remember Jossi (Wells) said that when he went on the Planks website his words were: “It’s insane that you’re not riding for these guys”. That made me pretty stoked. I’ve got a lot out of skiing, and the UK, and now it’s time for me to give back.
Photo Courtesy of Planks Clothing
So finally, what are the key pieces from Planks for you this season?
My products are the whole Good Times range. I’ve been having as much influence as I can get over the cuts of the hoodies, the jackets and the pants – how they’re all fitting – making sure it’s stuff that I feel comfortable in. Because obviously, if I feel comfortable, then hopefully other people will be too.
We’ve got some really cool products that are about to come out next season – I’ve just started to wear those now. The main thing with Planks is that they’re putting out really good looking, quality gear, that’s not crazy expensive. It’s good quality, you look good, you feel good, and it’s good for being on the mountain, but also its affordable, which is a really important thing to me. I’m not trying to sell to the rich and the famous.
Thanks Woodsy! Great to catch up with you.
Skimmed to the bottom already? Want to see what life is like through the eyes of Woodsy? Head over to our Instagram @freezeproshop where he’ll be taking over our feed.
Words by Lewis McLean