Woods begins freestyle season in style with gold in Cardrona
James Woods kick-started his FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup season in remarkable style with slopestyle victory at the Winter Games NZ.
Having qualified in first place in his heat in Cardrona, Woods refused to relinquish the lead, scoring 91.80 in his first run before following it up with 86.60 in his second to retain his title from two years ago.
That was enough to place him just ahead of Switzerland's Andri Ragettli in second, with fellow Swiss skier Fabian Boesch completing the podium line-up in third.
"It's a real honour just to be competing in this field," said Woods.
"Watching the best in the world go ahead of me was really nerve-wracking.
"Andri was the last person to go and he's just amazing so I just knew I had to be perfect."
Victory sees 25-year-old Woods lead the overall World Cup standings after one event, with the next taking place in November in Stubai, Austria.
It marks a continuation of his fantastic 2016/17 season, in which he won X Games gold in the Big Air as well as slopestyle bronze at the X Games Europe - repeating the latter at the World Championships in March.
"It seems to be going pretty well," he added.
"I was second here four years ago, but otherwise I only seem to win the events in New Zealand.
"It was a tricky day with rain last night, so the park had to do a job to make the conditions work. They did a great job to make the course sing for us."
The women's event was won by 15-year-old Kelly Sildaru of Estonia who was competing in her first-ever World Cup.
The teenager landed a score of 90.00 on her first run and never looked in doubt of picking up her first title.
"Yesterday I didn't land my first run but today I landed both my runs and so I'm really happy," said Sildaru.
Switzerland's Guilia Tanno took silver while Sweden's Jennie-Lee Burmansson – another 15-year-old competing in her first World Cup – took bronze.