Nicole Ritchie was the first girl down in the Slalom and won and then did the same in the Giant Slalom at Hillend in the Scottish Dryslope Championship Giant Slalom. The margin was not as comprehensive as in the Slalom but the win was just reward for ending her summer holiday early. Callum Henderson was given a wake up call as he trailed Euan Kick after the first run; yet he picked himself up and … attacked to put the pressure on his younger colleague. Kick lived on the edge on the second run and as he approached the steep section ended up crashing out as he pursued a win. Carla Gardiner and Francesca Lee joined Ritchie on the female podium with Euan Ryan and Zak Vinter joining Henderson on the male podium.
While the field may have been small in terms of numbers, it was high in terms of competition. After the first run in the menâ€™s race, less than a second separated the top six racers. All six had a chance to go for the Overall win on the second run and all were definitely up for the challenge. Ross Taylor was first of the leading men to go on the second run and the Glaswegian did his chances no harm with a solid and good time, how good it was would be known after the remaining five had been.Â
Euan Ryan was next down and Ryan was one of the few racers to attack the Hillend slope on GS skis. Ryan is a past winner of the Scottish GS Championship and it was definitely in his game plan to try and wrestle the initiative away from those faster than him on the first run. Ryanâ€™s second run was a marked improvement on his first and he took the lead by over a second from Taylor
Johnny Powell, one of the few leading racers from south of the border to venture up to the races this weekend, has a reputation for finishing fourth in races. After the first run he was placed in his customary role yet sadly for him he moved down the order after his second run, losing out to Taylor by less than a tenth of second.
Zak Vinter, still racing in the Under 16 age group yet mixing it with the older racers used his accomplished technique to make up for the strength advantage that the older racers had over him. Vinter just missed out on taking the lead and settled in behind Ryan with the two stars of the weekend still to come: First Henderson and then Kick. It would be a shoot out between these two to see who would win the GS title.
Henderson is not used to going second last at Hillend: He has won on the hill he both trains on himself and also trains younger racers many times and has his name on the Winners Trophy more times than most. Talking between the two runs you could hear the determination he had to try and win again. It may have been fifteen hundredths he trailed Kick by but on such a technical and demanding hill as Hillend, this was a possible mission. While Euan Ryanâ€™s second run may have been fractionally faster than his, Henderson had enough in reserve to hold on to the lead by just over a third of a second. Only Euan Kick could deprive him of the win he craved.
Euan Kick is one of the new generation of racers that is making their mark. The Glaswegian is a force to be reckoned with and while there is eight years difference between him and Henderson, both are strong and technically sound racers. Kick will win this race many times in the future but today was not his day as he highsided coming into the steep section and his race was over. Another title for Callum Henderson!
If the Menâ€™s race was super competitive, the Girlâ€™s race gave a hint of what the future may look like for both Scottish and British racing. Nicole Ritchie is a growing presence on the GB scene yet is now looking to extend her ambitions to the alpine side of things. For the fourth year in a row she has shown the rest how to master Hillend both in the Slalom and Giant Slalom, now she needs to raise her game to show the same form on the snow. The rest of the field need to raise their game to the same levels on the plastic if they are to achieve the same sort of dominance.
Not as tight as the menâ€™s race, the look of the leaderboard after the first run saw someone old, someone new, someone good and someone who had been there and won it all before! (But not necessarily in that order you will understand!)
Alannah Lawrie lead the race as Francesca Lee took to the start of the second run. Lee was a little disappointed with her first run and attacked with more gusto on the second. She was rewarded with the second fastest second run time and swapped places with the rising star of this weekend â€“ Eilidh Ryan. Ryan is the youngest of the leading four racers and also by some way the smallest! The fact she was mixing it with the older and stronger racers shows how determined and spirited she is. Fourth place was no disgrace and she will one day win this race!
Lee benefitted from her strength and power over Ryan but she could not claw back the half a second deficit she had over Gardiner who growled her way down both runs to be the best of the rest behind Ritchie.
Ritchie was in her own class and while the rest may have felt that they had a wee chance of overcoming her after the first run, Ritchie banished the thoughts with a comprehensive thrashing on the second run.
In the girlâ€™s race, there were age group wins for Eilidh Ryan (Under 14); Francesca Lee (Under 16); Rachael Ferrier (Under 18); Nicole Ritchie (Under 21) and Carla Gardiner (Senior). In the boyâ€™s age groups there were wins for Owen Vinter (Under 14 â€“ a fantastic seventh overall); Zak Vinter (Under 16); Liam McHugh (Under 18, 10th overall); Euan Ryan (Under 21) and Callum Henderson (Senior).
Congratulations to all the winners and racers and a great set of races organized by Snowsport Scotland.