On the eve of the Slalom, Team GB Slalom coach, Tristan Glasse Davis gives the low down

After ten races in the 2013 World Championships, including the team event, Dave Ryding will make his entrance to the proceedings in the Men’s Slalom. Dave is the only man to have met the stringent qualifying criteria for the British team at the World Championships and since he last raced in Arber, the programme has been geared to getting him in the right shape for the Slalom. Just prior to the team captains meeting the night before the race, Tristan Glasse Davis, Ryding’s coach, dropped by to give the low down on how things are going.

Racer Ready: So welcome to Schladming, when did you get here?

Tristan Glasse Davis: we got here yesterday.

RR: Since the second place in the Europa Cup in Arber, Germany, what have you been up to?

TGD: Since Arber, we have been training in Carezza, Sud Tirol, Italy with the Fins and the Japanese and then went to Mt Pora but this was sadly cancelled, Dave had bib 1 on a piste that suited him. The race was cancelled due to the weather not allowing the lifts to work after they had taken so long to run the first run of the Giant Slalom. It was so windy the next day that it was not possible to open the chairlift. After that we had a four day break and then we did two blocks of three days with a day off in between and then a day of training in Reiteralm. The six days we did with the Japanese, Sasaki and Nuasa (both World Cup top thirty racers) and also a little with the Russian Khoroshilov. Pretty much every session that we have done, we have done a lot of sessions, we have done 30 sessions since Christmas, have been with other teams. We have done a lot with the Finns and some with the Norwegians and quite a lot with the Japanese. As a one man band that is how we have had to operate and this leads to better quality of training for Dave. We had a little spell around Arber when he was not skiing so well where maybe we pushed it a little too much. Now I feel after the break and we have done three days and another three days, we have done some good stuff in the last three days. I think he is now in a position where he could go for it tomorrow. First of all he has to try and make the thirty after that he has to push for a good second run and see where he ends up.

RR: These are Dave’s third World Championships, plus the Olympics, there cannot be much excuse for the nerves of it being the first Championships. Dave is now a seasoned racer at this level, in your view how is he mentally coming into these Championships?

TGD: The way I look at it with Dave is that if you have got form you are capable of skiing fast, whether or not it is the World Championships. It is like a World Cup for Dave. he will have bib 43 and he needs to ski fast, as long as people do not start skiing out left right and centre, to make the 30. It is not like he is starting in the World Cup in the 25 – 30 area and he must stay in the thirty. He has to go to get in the thirty. I think the skiing results that he has had this year have meant that he has had to go at it. Hopefully the form that he has got is good enough to get a good result, I think it is.

RR: You say starting 43, is that a fair reflection of where his standing is at the moment?

TGD: Yes. I feel that that is a fairish reflection. He has had a couple of opportunities where he could have lowered himself: The Mt Pora race being cancelled being bib 1, was a good opportunity for him. He has been in the top 7 in the Europa Cup since San Vigilio where he was second on the first run by about 0.15 and was on for a good result but did not have a good second run and ended up with a 12 point result, so he has had opportunities to make results. There have been opportunities to make really good results, like Arber, he could have won that. He has put himself in places where he could have made under nine point results. But he has not done it. He has got opportunities coming up in Spain and Kranjska Gora and hopefully he can get something out of that. It is all well being top group in the Europa Cup but if you don’t use it… But he has used it to a certain extent. He has to concentrate first and foremost on the skiing and making sure that we are not just going from racer to race to race to race. He is at the level that he races, trains and focus on things and then back to races hopefully with an improvement and not just a flat line or getting lucky. He is trying to improve all the time.

Over the course of the season you see how someone is doing. You have got to know where you are at and you have got to keep working. If there are things you need to be doing, like Europa Cup races, you have to keep doing these for the continuation of the points. It is not like you can take three races off as you want to improve your form. We have not done a lot of FIS races because I wanted to keep him going with the skiing, keep pushing him with the skiing. I think he has a good chance of doing something decent tomorrow.

RR: Do you feel happy with the way his season has gone so far?

TGD: I do feel happy with the way things have gone so far. Obviously with the top 30 in Levi this was a huge result, a massive result. Looking at the skiing, Dave had more in the tank there: he is really, really fast on the flat, he is right in there with the best in the world. What we have focused on outside of that is skiing on what most of the world cups are on and that is the steep, icy surfaces and that is the area that he needs to get better at. He is getting better. If you look back two years ago and last year, he is getting better and is getting more exposure to this. He is learning more about what he needs to do with his equipment, what is possible with the tuning, what is possible with the line, surfaces and different situations. He is 26 years old but he did not start skiing until he was quite old. He is still learning a lot. In some respects, ski racing is still fresh to him. He is getting a lot better at the steep and icy stuff and that is what you need to do to crack World Cup. You need to be able to link sections. You cannot rely on moderate pistes, that is not going to happen. This is a step up but he has shown some decent stuff in training.

RR: Do you think that it would help him to have a second racer on the team, or does he need someone who is better than him to chase?

TGD: He works well off both, someone to chase and someone pushing him but that is by the by. He is always skiing with other guys and there has always been someone ranked better than him. He can see the times and know where he is at. Sometimes he has been faster and sometimes slower and when he is slower, it is frustrating and he goes out and tries to do something about it. That is a quality that he has definitely got.

RR: The results are out there for every one to see in black and white. Those results have helped to encourage Delancey to put their money into the GB Alpine Team, how much has this help been to you for his programme?

TGD: Without Delancey, there is no programme from my understanding. Without a programme we would not get any of those results. It has allowed us to get the results that we have and for Dave to improve. We cannot function without money and it is thanks to Delancey that we have a programme.

RR: How much work do you do with the other GB teams like Stefan Moser’s team?

TGD: Dave needs to train with the guys on the Slalom tour to improve, he needs to be challenged on difficult terrain with conditions that he is going to be skiing in races where as the others may need something different. Sometimes we may do sessions with the others.

RR: What are the ramifications of Dave doing well on the Europa Cup Tour and what does it mean to win the Slalom tour, what does it mean for Team GB?

TGD: It gives us an extra spot in the World Cup which is great if we had anyone who could fill it. But we do not at the moment have anyone who could fill it. I see the yellow bib and this is a sign that someone is skiing consistently fast. It does not reward you or give you anything really. It is something that helps Austria, Switzerland or France but not Britain as we do not have a big enough team. We do not have three racers so it does not make sa difference.

As we sit talking in the press room in Schladming, you can sense the belief that the coach has in his athlete. This is the first time that Ryding will have skied the World Championship slope, the same slope that is used on the World Cup for the Night Race. Glasse Davis feels that it is a great slope, one that is fast out of the gate and over the next 20 or so gates, it gives the racer a chance to get into the course before they come over the rise and into the steep section. “He has to go at it on the top and try and get in there,” Glasse Davis feels, “he has to see what he can do and get down.” With no free skiing possible on the slope, race day will be the first time that Ryding has had the opportunity to ski the slope.

The World Championship Team event caught the imagination of Ryding and Glass Davis watched with him and he could see that he could tell that Ryding wanted to be in it. Maybe in the future, with the new crop of racers and the current racers, this is something that Team GB could enter, maybe this is something that could be incorporated into the British Championships in Meribel. For the moment though, Ryding has his eye on getting into that top thirty again, this time in the World Championships.

Watch out for bib 43 in Schladming… Britain is watching and hoping for more magic!