When he showed up in Vail for the U.S. Freeskiing Open in February 2000, Andrew Woods was just another grommet in a crowd of unheralded terrain park wannabes hoping to get into the top 20. Then the 19-year-old northern-Vermont native, who honed his hucking skills at Smugglers' Notch and Sugarbush, nailed the first ever 1260 (that's a three-and-a-half-revolution corkscrew for those keeping score) in a contest to win the big air competition.
Offers flowed in from ski and apparel companies, and suddenly Woods was living the freeskiing dream. "People were just throwing money at me to travel around the world to ski," he says with the disbelief of someone who lucked into a lottery win with a single ticket.
The Vail win proved to be no fluke. Woods's more recent credits include a second in the U.S. Freeskiing Open halfpipe and a fifth in the X Games halfpipe. He'll also be featured in Teton Gravity Research's latest film, The Prophecy.
Those are the makings of a typical freeskiing career path, but Woods is hardly your typical spiked-hair huck-o-maniac. For one, he's unafraid of criticizing the very thing that has brought him success. "The whole terrain park scene is really limited," he says. "I see too many top pros just hanging out in the park, rather than on the mountain skiing."
He is also the rare freeskiing pro who chooses the East (where he now attends college part-time in Vermont) as his base of operations. "I had a place in Whistler last winter," he says, "but I would never say I lived there. I consider myself an East Coast guy. It's been good to me."
Born: April 4, 1981; Burlington, Vermont
Parental Approval: "My parents love that I'm a pro skier.They're skiers, and because of me, they get all sorts of free things."
Wild about Wilde: "A favorite author? I just bought The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. I've always thought Oscar Wilde had a unique way of looking at things."
On Eastern Skiing:
"When people say there's no powder in the East, I ask, 'How can you say you've never skied powder? Do you get up at noon every day?'"