David Ryding may have come into the Arber Europa Cup Slalom as the wearer of the Yellow bib as the leading racer on the day, but having been drawn number 7, â€œpossibly the worst number I could have been drawn,â€ he admitted after the race, Ryding used his experience to get down and not crash out. The first run saw a number of his rivals either crash out or hike as they all tried to post super fast times. Ryding would go on to finish second behind the Slovenian Miha Kuerner and ahead of the Austrian Christoph Noesig, Croatian Filip Zubcic and American Will Gregorak.
â€œWith so many crashing out on the first run, I was a little apprehensive,â€ he admitted to Racer Ready after the race, â€œbut I put in a run but did not know how fast it was.â€ In the end the first run time was good enough for seventh place as the run was won in a super quick time by the rising Austrian talent Marc Digruber. Digruber lead by over a second! Rydingâ€™s coach soon dispelled any thoughts of this being a race-winning run as he mentioned between runs that the Austrian would not be able to do a run like that again.
As the second run drew closer the clouds came in. The first few runners escaped the worst of it and then it just got thicker and thicker. At one stage racers could only see two to three gates and a delay looked likely. Then with about five racers to go before Ryding to the course, the clouds cleared. â€œThis was a stroke of luck,â€ Ryding admitted after the race, â€œalthough the light was flat, I could at least see what was coming up.â€
â€œI knew that I had to put a good time down as I was off the pace after the first run,â€ Ryding reflected. The cautious nature of his first run was in stark contrast to the second run. Although he was not on the money at every gate, he was faster, secure and despite losing time on some of the delay gates near the finish, he took the lead. Now it was just a case of waiting to see what the remaining six racers could do.
Europa Cup level racing is the second tier down on the World Tour. With the best racers competing at Kitzbuehel: Marcel Hirscher went on to win ahead of his friend and winner of the Wengen race a week ago, Felix Neureuther and Ivica Kostelic in third (and winner of the classic downhill and slalom combined). The race in Arber gave a lot of the future and rising stars an opportunity to make a name for themselves.
With just the winner of the first run to go, Ryding was in second. A number of racers had straddled, slipped on the their inside or had to hike. The young Slovenian, who had his family watching him for the first time in a Europa Cup race, was in the lead as Digruber left the start. With such a lead (over one second), Digruber was looking good until he caught the sight of the finish as he approached the last few gates and as his concentration waned, so to did the last gate go flashing past him â€“ on the wrong side. Second place for Ryding!
Although there was a protest against the disqualification, too many agreed with the gatekeeper and it was thrown out.
The Europa Cup is a unique series in that racers jump in and out of the series to go and try their luck in the World Cup, dates permitting. With four races left in the Slalom Series, Ryding trails Matthias Hargin (a top 15 slalom skier on the World Cup) by 60 points. Rydingâ€™s consistency has seen him also rise up to challenge in the Overall as well. Ryding is now in second on the Slalom standings and third in the Overall. â€œThe Europa Cup and getting better points is definitely the goal for the season,â€ Ryding admitted as he packed away the large glass trophy he won, not too dissimilar to the Crystal Globes that are given out on the World Cup â€“ they are made by the same firm, Joska.
With two yellow bibs now proudly in his possession, Hargin is expected to return for the next round, next weekend in Italy. With the World Championships looming large on the horizon, the 9.94 point result helps move Ryding in the right direction. â€œThis will move him up a few places,â€ explained Tristan Glasse-Davies, Rydingâ€™s coach, â€œbut we really need a 7 or an 8 point result to make that leap up. Dave is an intelligent racer and knows what he is doing on the race course but it is just frustrating.â€ With Digruber having crashed out (he went through the finish with a lead of over seven tenths), this helps Ryding but the fact that most of the top seven all went out as well did not help the penalty.
â€œI am knocking on the door,â€ Ryding said, â€œbut the door is not quite opening yetâ€¦.!â€ This is more than just an encouraging result as one pundit recently described Ryding’s result at Levi, this is the result of long term work and funded investment from supporters to Ryding like C-Tec, Vital, Kandahar Ski Club, NORSKI and his ski manufacturers Dynastar Lange. Despite negative publicity in recent months regarding the state of funding for the GB Alpine Team, support from the likes of Delancey means that Ryding’s coach, Tristan Glasse Davies, is provided by the BSS. The BSS have been keen to emphasize the support that Delancey have given the Alpine Team in recent years.
Just over the border in the Czech Republic, rising GB Childrenâ€™s Team racer bettered his results from the Czech National Champs when he won the Czech International Races. Without the support of a private individual who has contributed in excess of Â£100,000 Racer Ready is lead to believe, the success of Poth and other children on the GB Team, would not be possible.
Alpine is not quite the forgotten land that some would say!