As an outstanding season for British snow sport draws to a close, James Woods and Isabel Atkin added to the tally this weekend, with two slopestyle bronze medals at the freestyle skiing World Championships in Sierra Nevada, Spain. Woods said he was proud of the result in Sunday’s competition, despite concerns about the safety of the course.
Also on Sunday, slalom skier Dave Ryding achieved a top 10 result in the season’s final World Cup race in Aspen, Colorado, ending the season in eighth place on the leaderboard.
In the women’s slopestyle in Sierra Nevada, a solid third run from Isabel Atkin earned her a bronze medal, behind Tess Ledeux of France in first place and Sweden’s Emma Dahlstrom in second.
“I am stoked with how I skied in the conditions out here and glad to put down a solid run,” Atkin said. “It is a great end to the season and I am so happy to get bronze at my first World Champs.” Atkin had already made history this year, becoming the first British woman to win a slopestyle World Cup gold after her victory in Silvaplana, Switzerland.
James Woods also claimed a slopestyle bronze medal at the World Championships, with American skiers McRae Williams and Gus Kenworthy taking gold and silver. A crash in Woods’ third run and his criticism of the competition’s organisers took the shine off any celebrations.
The event in the mountains of southern Spain struggled with poor snow cover, and qualifying rounds in the slopestyle were disrupted by high winds.
“It’s been nothing short of pathetic from the organisation to the course,” Woods told the BBC. “I’m really happy to walk away no more injured than I already am. I’m really proud to put runs down like that and only really come a cropper because of the stupid course that wasn’t built right.
“I don’t want to be seen as the bad guy, or the one that’s always kicking up a fuss, it’s just that I’m so passionate about my sport and also the safety of all the skiers and there were things that just weren’t right this week.”
Joseph Thomas Fitzgerald of the International Ski Federation (FIS) said the organisers had “adjusted all kinds of regulations and schedules to help athletes,” although he acknowledged that they had had difficulty coping with the weather conditions.
Besides the two medals of the weekend in freestyle skiing, the other British success story was Dave Ryding’s continued progress in the World Cup slalom. Ryding came eighth in the final race of the season in Aspen, ensuring a final position at number eight in the world rankings. He finished the previous season in 22nd place.
In January, Ryding won a silver medal in the slalom in Kitzbühel, Austria, marking the best World Cup result for a British alpine ski racer in 35 years.
Ski Sunday presenter Graham Bell picked out Dave Ryding’s achievements as the highlight of the season for British snow sports. “Dave’s performance this year was absolutely incredible,” he said, emphasising the second-place finish in Kitzbühel.
“He’s definitely a medal contender for Pyeongchang,” Bell said of Ryding’s chances at the 2018 Olympics. “And we’ve got some great chances with the park and pipe team, plus Andrew Musgrave doing well in cross-country as well. It’s a good team that’s going out to the Winter Olympics next year.”