In extremely tough conditions Dave Ryding finished off his season winning the one trophy that means so much to him: The Delancey British Alpine Slalom Title in Meribel. With heavy wet snow falling all morning, Ryding put down a marker from an early start number of 2 and then watched as the rest battled the elements and the deteriorating course conditions. His lead on the first run was never in doubt and it was a case of who would take the other two places on the podium. In the end it was Rob Bullen, the defending champion, who just held off the challenge of Nick Moynihan (12th and 13th overall) with Jack Gower using his early start number on the second run to put a challenge up to take fourth in the British honours.
“I wanted to win this a lot, it means a lot to me the British,” explained Ryding after the race. “We have had some great British slalom skiers in the past and it is great to get my name on the trophy again. It is also good to end the year as the British Champion.” This is the fourth time that Ryding has won the British Championships in Meribel. As Ryding stood in the start gate, the commentary announced that the next man down would be the Europa Cup Champion, how does he feel with this added pressure? “It still has not really sunk in,” he admits, “I have not had a chance to sit down and reflect on what I have done this year, to be known as the Europa Cup Champion is nice however!”
Ryding knows when the serious work starts, when he enters the start gate, this is work time and he has such a good feeling on his Dynastar skis this year that when he enters the start area, this is work. “When I get in the start gate, it is time to go,” he explained, “today I was quite nervous as I wanted it a lot, I had built it up to myself that I had to win it.” Ryding left the start gate and put down a time that gave the rest of the field a lot to think about. The track may have been clean yet the conditions were not ideal as you still had to be on the skis and not sitting back. Ryding was worried a few times but still showed his class to win the first run.
Billy Major, 17 years old was the next British racer down but he crashed out and then Rob Bullen attacked the course. “I did not ski great but I battled down the frist run,” Bullen explained, “unfortunately not many people finished so was in 13th after the frist run. On the second run I was a bit cautious and round but I held off Nick for second.” Despite having lost his British title, Bullen was satisfied with this result: “If you discard the FIS points and look who I have beaten, it shows that I am skiing better than last year. I still have more to offer though.” The loss of the title is not of great concern to Bullen, he feels “significantly better” this year . While Ryding has had over 180 days coached days this year, Bullen has had significantly less. He feels that if he can arrange with the Dutch team, who he trains with, for more time being coached then he can make more of a jump up.
Nick Moynihan was really happy to make third place after having had two hard days in the Super G and Giant Slalom, he had crashed out both days. “I was not expecting a podium so I am really happy with that.” Moynihan took the English Championships by storm in February and while many of his competition have had really good seasons, he has felt a little off the pace. “I was on the start line just trying to bite at their heals,” he explained. “I have really enjoyed the Championships so far but am skiing well and with the GS and Slalom to come, Hopefully I will be able to do better.”
While the rest of the British racers battled for the crumbs, Ryding showed them how to deal with the conditions either on the smooth first run and on the second run, two courses that had contrasting conditions. Ryding felt that the second run was a lot firmer than the first run: “I definitely had the better of the courses today as it held up really well on the second run.” After watching Jack Gower go down early on the second run, Ryding recognised that the course was turny and so used his experience to not over do things. While the lead was not as great on the second run, his margin of victory saw him score a 10 point FIS result. There were times when this would have been greated with huge acclaim, now it barely gets a mention, such is the stock that Ryding is now held in.
Ally Stang won the prize as the best non British team racer and Alexander Adamson took the junior prize.
It has been a long season for the man from Pendle, it has been a fantastic season!