Henderson and Ritchie retain Scottish Titles; Scotland win team event

Hillend provided another day of entertaining racing for the Scottish Dryslope Championships. Despite being a late entry and having to start at the front of the field, Nicole Ritchie retained her Scottish Title for the fourth year in a row by a convincing two-second margin over the rest of the field. Henderson also won in emphatic style,… this time by a little over one and a half seconds. With the field being deprived of some of the better dry mat racers from the south due to events going on near the Scottish Capital, Henderson and Ritchie showed just how much the rest of the field need to up their game as they won their races.

Ritchie was the only girl to record a combined time of under a minute for her two runs. Her lead of just over half a second over Francesca Lee on the first run was put in the shade by the way she destroyed the second run to win my a margin of two seconds exactly after the second run. Lee held on to second place and had a convincing advantage over the fast improving Under 14, Eilidh Ryan who took third overall. Alannah Lawrie took fourth and Rachael Ferrier rounded out the top five overall. Carla Gardiner took sixth to make all the age group winners were in the top six places overall.

Hillend is a slope unlike any other in the UK: It is longer, steeper and more varied than any other. You get better by experience. It is a shame that the high number of other events happening over this weekend meant that hotel rooms were in short supply (and thus raising the price) to deprive the event of some of the better racers from around the country. In a time when the sport is looking at ways it can improve and become more attractive to its members, maybe this is something that could be looked out.Like Ritchie, Henderson held a slender lead after the first run. Zak Vinter, nine years Henderson’s junior, was in second by just three tenths after the first run with the eternal student, Johnny Powell a further three tenths back in third. Keeping things symmetrical, Euan Ryan was another three tenths back in fourth after the first run with Duncan Kuwall showing promise in fifth. With Euan Kick having crashed out on the first run, Henderson only real challenger had gone. The second run course, set by Lewis John allowed Henderson to use his power and strength to attack and distance himself from the rest of the field. Vinter still posted the second fastest time but had to be content with second while Powell, for once, held on to third after his nearest challenger, Euan Ryan crashed out on steep section half way down the course. David Hatcher swapped places with Kuwall climbing the rankings to fourth.Scottish SL 149740

The age groups in the female race saw wins for Eilidh Ryan in the Under 14’s (an impressive third overall as well), Francesca Lee in the Under 16’s, Rachael Ferrier in the Under 18’s, Nicole Ritchie in the Under 21’s and Carla Gardiner in the Senior age group. In the men’s race, the wins went to Owen Vinter in the Under 14’s (a hugely creditable 10th overall); Zak Vinter took the Under 16’s; Liam McHugh in the Under 18’s; Ross Taylor in the Under 21’s and Callum Henderson in the Senior age group.

It takes not only great technique to conquer Hillend but also the ability to overcome the fear of the speed generated down the wall. Henderson and Ritchie will have their names engraved yet again on the Champion’s Trophies, the rest of the field will need to raise their games if they want to add their names to the roll of honour in years to come.

in the team event Scotland A and England A, the two power teams in the pro-slalom head to head format of the event, made it through to the final for a best of three race off. England’s Olly Farr stayed with in touching distance of Zak Vinter in the first leg as the lead off men but then the Scottish team slowly pulled away to win comfortably. Euan Kick, Nicole Ritchie and Callum Henderson all skied safe and comfortably within themselves to secure the first leg. The Scottish team them had an easy win in the second leg as Farr lost control of his skis and crashed just after the start. An unfortunate way to end an enthralling event. Scotland B took third.

Full Results to come

Pictures from the racing will be up on www.racer-ready.ifp.com shortly.