Top-five finish for battler Woods

James Woods scored 87.20 on his first run

James Woods scored 87.20 on his first run

First published in National Sport News © by

James Woods missed out on a medal but defied a hip injury to earn an impressive fifth place in the first ever Winter Olympics men's ski slopestyle final, as the United States claimed an impressive sweep of the podium spots.

The Yorkshireman, who has been struggling for fitness since falling awkwardly in training last Friday, gave Britain hope of a second medal in Sochi with a score of 86.60 that left him fourth after the first run.

While he could not better that second time around, a top-five finish at a sun-baked Rosa Khutor Extreme Park represents an amazing achievement for the 22-year-old from Sheffield.

Joss Christensen won gold with a score of 95.80, with fellow Americans Gus Kenworthy (93.60) and Nick Goepper (92.40) earning silver and bronze respectively.

Woods admitted before the final his hip was still giving him problems, but did not look for excuses and was ultimately proud of his efforts today.

"I'm a bit sore but ultimately very, very happy and proud to have been representing Great Britain in such an incredible event," he said.

"I honestly couldn't be more happy for Joss Christensen.

"Fifth place at the the Olympics, four of my best mates up in front of me, probably shouldn't have even been skiing - so it's not bad."

The reigning World Cup champion did entertain thoughts of pulling out of the event but the support he has been given spurred him on to compete.

"It's fair to say there maybe were a couple of times when I thought that," he said.

"There were certainly a couple of times where I thought 'I'm not sure I can carry on'.

"So much mass goes into every single movement, it does really hurt.

"But the doctors, the physios, my coach Pat (Sharples) and everyone back in the UK have been so behind me, it'd have been pretty rubbish for me to wuss out now.

"Some things hurt more than others, that was in the back of my mind.

"I tried to forget about it, think about why I'm here, because that's a long way down (from start to finish)."

Woods qualified in third in the qualifiers, but pre-event favourites Goepper and Kenworthy came to the fore in the final, with Christensen's success the surprise of the day.

"The standard was absolutely sublime," Woods added.

Woods was agonisingly close to becoming the first person to win a medal in all four of the major ski slopestyle competitions - having earned bronze at the 2011 X Games Europe and at the 2013 X Games and silver at the 2013 world championship.

But he refused to speculate whether he would have been in contention had he been 100 per cent fit, preferring to highlight his happiness at the runs he completed.

"I'm not putting anything out there, I love skiing, I love what I'm doing, I certainly didn't bring my best game to the table today but I'm incredibly proud to be here," he said.

"To have put down two runs, if anything I know what I'm good at, I know I was pretty clean and I was happy with it."

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