You can feel the support growing through the social media networks for the latest in a long line of Slalom skiers from Great Britain. Dave Ryding makes the start for the first Men’s slalom of the new World Cup season. Ryding grew up training on the Pendle dry slope and along with help from the Kandahar Ski Club, Ryding has used his early days to great benefit, especially on flat slopes. Last season many of his contemporaries on the Europa Cup scene asked where he had managed to gain so much speed across the flat sections at a Europa Cup race. Ryding’s response was to recognise the importance of his early days in trying to eek out every hundredth going across the flat section at Pendle where every hundredth counts.
So where does this benefit him on the World Cup? Surely on the World Cup, this is all about steep slopes and changing terrain? Levi is not the steepest slope on the tour and now that Ryding has risen up the rankings with some great results at the end of last season and over the summer, scoring a 9.91 in Rogla at the Slovenian National Championships and then a career best 9.21 at Coronet Peak in coming second in the New Zealand Championships, Ryding is on the verge of creating something great.
It is a long time since the likes of Alain Baxter, Noel Baxter and Johnny Moulder-Brown were racing on the World Cup and making the second run. Ryding tweeted in the run up to Levi that he hoped to give it “a right royal hammering.” Determination if ever there was some!
In the aftermath of the collapse of Snowsport GB and the subsequent lack of funding for the alpine skiers, Ryding has let his skiing do the talking. Nothing speaks louder than results and while other athletes have said their past should qualify them for funded programmes, Ryding has just got on with the job in hand and put his head down and worked hard. There is no such thing as a free lunch these days and Ryding works hard for everything. He may be ranked in the top 60 in the world in Slalom but he still has to contribute to payment for his skis from Dynastar. Yet Ryding knows that with each result that raises him up the rankings, the riches will come.
Levi 2012 will be his eighth start on the World Cup. In Zagreb in January, he made the finish for the first time. Since then he has scored under ten points twice and risen up the World Rankings in Slalom. Ryding is ranked 14 on the second tier Europa Cup circuit yet there is a huge gap between that and the World Cup. Sitting in Zagreb in January on the eve of the race, he spoke about really enjoying his racing yet it was on the World Cup that he really wanted to be. Currently ranked 69th on the FIS list, he will start higher than that in Levi. There is a real sense of opportunity that he could be the first racer in a long time to make the second run of a slalom for Great Britain. Chamonix 2010 was the last time that a British man scored World Cup points – Ed Drake.
To follow Dave on the World Cup, you can follow his tweets @daveryding.