X marks the spot for James

Freestyle skier James Woods with bronze medal from X Games
Freestyle skier James Woods with bronze medal from X Games

Freestyle skiing ace James Woods really has got the X factor.

The 19-year-old from Sheffield served up a double ‘first’ and also turned history-maker at the Euro Winter X Games in Tignes, France.

James, competing in his first X Games against the sport’s elite, won Britain’s first ever freestyle skiing medal at a major championships when he bagged bronze in the slopestyle competition.

He was beaten to gold and silver by a Canadian and a Norwegian but finished ahead of pre-event favourites, American duo Alex Schlopy and Bobby Brown.

James said: “I was so happy to come away with a medal.

“It was probably the hardest course I’ve skied and the conditions were tough but I told myself to go for it as it was the X Games final. Thankfully I managed to put down a solid run.”

He became the first British skier to gain a podium place at a world class event since Konrad Bartelski finished second at the Val Gardena World Cup downhill in 1981.

Sheffield’s Katie Summerhayes,who is only 15, also took part in Tignes and finished ninth in the ski equivalent.

His achievement comes a few weeks ahead of the International Olympic Committee’s decision on whether to allow slopestyle into the 2014 Winter Games.

Slopestyle is where riders head down a course which has rails and jumps and they are judged on the difficulty of tricks they execute. James learned his skills at Sheffield Ski Village’s dry slope but this season showed his world potential when he qualified third for the final at the World Championships, although a mistake in his run saw him finish eighth on the day.

He is currently defending his slopestyle crown at the British Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Championships in Laax, Switzerland, which end on Sunday.