Debrief: James Woods on the Dumont Cup, personal projects and more
HOW WAS THE DUMONT CUP?
It was sweet. It was fun. It was incredible. It felt like the first wind-down spring event of the year, which gets everyone in a really good mood.
IT WAS SUPER HOT THERE.
It was incredibly warm. It was nuts. I tend to ski in my jacket and I haven't really worked out my style with the hoodies and stuff, so I had a mad rush on that end to figure out what I was going to wear for a change. But it was a different kind of contest. Normally all the contests are super icy, that's the problem. That and fresh snow, but this was a different aspect. You had to cruise through on top of the slush. It wasn't bad, though. It was fun to be in the sun and everyone was there throwing down, so not too much different.
HOW DID THE COURSE HOLD UP?
I think the jam session day was a bit of a shock for everyone because it was so hot and I don't think anyone anticipated what all those people skiing were going to do as far as mushing the jumps. When it came to finals day, they really understood it was going to be boiling hot and they really got on it with the salt and shaping the jumps between runs. You had to make sure you were solid on takeoffs and landings, but it didn't make too much of a difference, really.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF A JAM FORMAT OPEN QUALIFIER?
I quite enjoyed it because I was watching, I was fortunate enough to be invited [meaning he was pre-qualified to finals]. But I got the feeling that it relieved a little bit of the stress of being in a large contest with an open qualifier. The closest comparison is the first stop of the Dew Tour during the qualifier. In my experience that event has been really scary; take-it-or-leave-it, your two runs kind of thing. I think if you were coming in as a qualifying athlete having a few runs, it's a lot more chill, with the judges paying attention to everything throughout the day rather than criticizing your two runs. It was beneficial. Luckily I wasn't in the qualies but I got that vibe from it that they were a lot more chill. However, I don't think finals can be run like that.
En route to a top five finish in Maine.
YOU TOOK FIFTH PLACE, ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOUR PERFORMANCE?
I was happy with my performance. This year I've put a lot of pressure on myself as far as competing goes. I haven't gotten the results I've desired but you've gotta' look at these things and realize the sport is at an incredibly high skill level and it's improving so much. To be getting top fives consistently and top tens in everything else, it's not ideal, as everyone wants to be on the podium. But I can't not be happy. I feel as though I broke through last year and this year hopefully I'm consolidating what I did last year and I'm a proven force to reckon with on the competition scene.
YOU TOOK FOURTH AT EURO X AND MADE YOUR FIRST DEW TOUR FINAL. HOW ARE THINGS DIFFERENT THIS YEAR?
I certainly feel that last year I was learning the ropes, so going to places for the first time and getting that experience aided me hugely this year. Going back to events with the knowledge of what I'm going to do and how people react under the pressure, that's invaluable. They say experience is the key. And this year going into it, like I said before, I put a lot of pressure on myself, so it's been hard. Not expecting to be winning, but really wanting it. I've changed the way I've thought about practicing, too. A lot more in the way of being super consistent with the tricks I've got and learning new grabs. Basically going into a contest knowing that I'm going to land the tricks. Rather than "if I just get past this feature, then I'll worry about the next feature," but instead having it all smooth and the knowledge that I can do my run with my eyes shut.
YOU RECENTLY WENT FROM THE NORTHEAST TO THE SOUTHWEST, RIGHT?
I left the Dumont Cup bright and early, well dark and early, and headed to Mammoth. I'm really excited to be here, it's one of my favorite place to ski. We have the Monster Energy team shoot here.
Woodsy in his first ever Winter Dew Tour final in Snowbasin, UT.
HOPEFULLY BETTER WEATHER THAN LAST YEAR'S SHOOT…
Yeah well last year was the first year and despite the terrible weather I had a fantastic time. Either way I'm excited but hopefully we get a solid week of bluebird shredding.
YOU EXCITED THAT YOU AREN'T AT A CONTEST FOR ONCE THIS YEAR?
So much. Unbelievably so. [laughs] I'm really excited. I kind of feel a little bit lost in the sense that there isn't a practice day, qualies day, semifinal day, kind of deal. As I'm not that familiar with filming. I haven't done a lot of it in my career. I'm really excited. This week for the Monster shoot and I've set aside another two weeks for my own personal project to get a lot of experience and put out something that's not a contest result that can get people stoked on what I'm up to.
CARE TO CLUE US IN ON THIS PERSONAL PROJECT?
Well basically I'm getting a filmer I've worked with in the past from the UK, one of my really good friends. He'll be over here spending two weeks with me, getting a lot of stuff done. We're going to Breck, one of my favorite places. We're not making a normal edit that you put out now and again, I want to put out something special. I don't want to amp it up too much but hopefully put out something new and hopefully people will enjoy watching it.
SO NO JOI OR NINE KNIGHTS FOR YOU?
Unfortunately not. I'm disappointed to not be going to JOI or Nine Knights because I haven't done either of those events. I'm a little disappointed, but more and more recently I've found that you've gotta concentrate and say, "Look I can't do that, I'm doing this." As long as you have a reason not to to justify it, it'll be alright. It's kind of new for me as I've usually done everything. I'm a little bit nervous to be honest. I hope a few weeks of filming will be worth it because I don't want to miss out.
James grabbing fourth this year in Tignes, France at Winter X Europe.
WHAT'S LINED UP AFTER THIS FILMING PROJECT?
A couple more things. I will be heading to WSI in Whistler. Gotta say it's one of my favorite events of the year. Everyone is relaxed and chill as it's the last major contest. It's brilliant. Super excited to head there. I'll head back to Mammoth for the Salomon Jib Academy, too. It's dear to my heart, seeing the new talent and the kids that are coming up and having a fun week in the sun.
AFTER THAT, TIME FOR A BREAK MAYBE?
I have absolutely no idea. But I'm certainly going to want a little time off. Maybe take a holiday for the first time in I have no idea how long, which would be great. I certainly want to spend some time with my family. All this skiing malarky has taken the biggest toll on my family and friends in dear old England.
For the summer obviously there is the looming affect of the Olympics as qualifications open up for that in July. That is something I'm going to put attention towards. Whether New Zealand will have an event in their winter that FIS points will go toward Olympic qualifications will determine if I go to NZ. But this summer I'll spend some time in Whistler at the camps and hopefully Mount Hood and Saas Fee.
HOW DO YOU THINK OLYMPIC QUALIFICATION WILL IMPACT NEXT SEASON'S SCHEDULE?
I feel as though every year I've been involved in skiing there has been more and more things to be doing. The schedule gets busier and busier. It's definitely going to have an impact, but in all honesty, it's not going to be that much of a big deal. Instead of doing an event in one place, we will be doing it somewhere else, run by FIS. I don't really know what to expect but everyone to take it in stride and treat it like any other event, just be ourselves. We'll just have a few more air miles by the end of it, too.
About the author:
Shay Williams is the Managing Editor of Freeskier Magazine. He loves cheeseburgers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sweden. He's likely on a plane right now—first class only.