Ryding gears up for Olympic season in New Zealand

Dave Ryding on his way to winning the Europa Cup Tour last season - can he repeat the feats of Levi last year this weekend? Picture Racer Ready

David Ryding was the big success story of the 2012 – 2013 winter season in Alpine. The man from Pendle took on the Europa Cup and came out with a number of Yellow bibs to add to his memorabilia from the season as well as a number of welcome cheques for doing well in races in the Europa Cup. Add to that the trophy for winning the season long series and a first World Cup points finish, this was a season that brought much needed cheer to British ski racing. That was last season and Ryding is now geared up for the 2013 – 2014 season that he hopes will see him benefit from his 2010 experience at Vancouver and also make more appearances on the second run in World Cup Slaloms. The season has started and now he is training in New Zealand. The road to Sochi 2014 has started and it is now ‘full on until after the second run in Meribel at the end of March,’ Ryding explained on the phone from New Zealand …

Right now training is going well Ryding feels. He is training with the Japanese team that contains two experienced World Cup racers in the form of 32 year old Akira Sasaki and 30 year old Naoki Yuasa. Ryding is holding his own with the two who have numerous top ten placings on the World Cup in their careers. The conditions in Coronet Peak are ‘tough’ yet Rding feels that this is something that he needs. Arber EC SL 14116

The close season saw Ryding swap from his long time partners Dynastar / Lange and join the Fischer brand. it was a hard decision for him after the great support that the French brand had given him through his career. The decision to join the brand that has the likes of top slalom skier Ivica Kostelic (third in the 2013 World Cup slalom Standings) and Manfred Moelgg (fifth in the standings last season) using the skis and boots, Ryding feels is starting to gel. Not only is Ryding fine tuning his technique but he is also using the time to test different moulds of skis and set ups so that his technique is more solid. Even during the season, Ryding will use different moulds depending on the snow conditions so now is the time to get used to all the new kit.

A lot has changed for Ryding in the last year: First there was the World Cup result, the first points for a British male in a technical event since 2005; then he went on an incredible journey through the Europa Cup season that saw him wear the series leaders yellow bib a number of times. The final day excitement and courage to not give up when he made a mistake in the last race of the series should be explained to every young racer that gives up after the smallest of mistakes. Ryding slid on his inside approaching a verticale and had the sense of mind to ski the combination the slow way round. The result was he dropped down the leader board and ended up in 30th spot. The skiing Gods gave him the nod as he started the second run first and he put in a blinder on the fresh course. His two rivals for the Overall Series win that day, Mathias Hargin from Sweden and Austria’s Manuel Feller could not do what was required for them to overhaul his points total and Ryding was rewarded for his consistency over the season with the Series win – the first time a Brit had won this!

It was in 2010 at the Vancouver Winter Olympics that Ryding realised just how much work he would need to put in if he was going to realise his full ability. The self belief has grown and this is there for all to see. The results in Vancouver were not spectacular: 47th in the Giant Slalom and then 27th in the Slalom. Four years on though, Ryding knows that he can use the experience gained from the 2010 Games to good advantage in knowing how to deal with the nerves of competing on such a big stage. While the BOA set incredibly high qualifying criteria for the Winter Olympic Games and have a ‘No Compromise’ attitude to this, you cannot recreate the atmosphere of an event that only happens once every four years and is the pinnacle of the sport. For those athletes that are aiming for the 2018 Games, it is proven that athletes tend to do better at their second Games. Yet still the BOA play hard ball over this, and not just with alpine skiing.

Ryding is just one part of the team. With ex-GB Team racer Tristan Glasse-Davis as his coach, driver, fitness training partner and friend, the two of them combine well. The results that were achieved last season saw Delancey  recognise this and help support the two of them. With no funding available from UK Sport for Alpine, this was a welcome support. The old saying that ‘Results Talk’ is something that all athletes need to be aware of. Ryding knows things could be worse on the funding side of things but realises that things are getting slightly better for him. Support emanating from his home club, Pendle, saw him do a series of Masterclasses around the North earlier in the summer. Paul Rayson and Colne Cars put together a programme that saw many racers of all ages benefit from his experience and also drew in coverage from ITV, BBC and Sky. The man from Pendle is starting to be recognised across the North!

Ryding will stay in New Zealand for about eight weeks in total and depending on funding, it is now all go until the end of the season at the Delancey British Championships in March. While the girls team training in New Zealand have already done a few races, Ryding will do a few races but only ‘to break up the training and see where I am. You can get a bit of deja-vu with all of the training,’ he explained.

With many of the Winter olympic hopefuls gathered in Bath to meet the press in mid August, the fact that the BOA arranged for Ryding to be made available for telephone interview just shows the regard that they hold the 26 year old in! Ryding likes to ski and ski fast. Although also an accomplished road bike cyclist and golfer, it is the skiing that is his goal. Ryding’s days in Sochi are likely to be some of the last races, with the Slalom being held under the lights and the last alpine event.

Watch out for good things from the man from Pendle!