Levi here we go! Ryding and Tilley to race for GB as the Slalom World Cup gets under way

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

Two weeks ago it was the Official opening of the 2013 – 2014 FIS AUDI Alpine World Cup and now it is the turn of the Slalom racers to open up their Olympic season campaigns. Marcel Hirscher and Mikaela Shiffrin are the two defending … World Cup Slalom Champions from last season and they start out as the ones to beat in the new season in Slalom. Levi is not the steepest slope on the World Cup tour but by taking the race to Levi, it helps FIS keep the word World in the programme. This is as near to a night race as you will get during the day due to Levi being so far north, over 100 miles north of the Arctic circle!

After the excitement of Pendle’s Dave Ryding scoring his first World Cup points in Levi last year, the defending Europa Cup Champion will be looking to make the second run again this year. Before Ryding starts his season off, Alex Tilley, will make her second World Cup Slalom start. Despite having failed to finish her first race last season, Tilley has already shown good form this season having won the very first race of the 2013 – 2014 FIS calendar year in Treble Cone. Tilley, along with her training partner, Charlie Guest will then join the Europa Cup Tour for a Slalom and Giant Slalom in Levi. Talking prior to going to Finland, Tilley explained that she was really excited for the race and looking forward to the race. For Tilley this is more about experience and raising her game to race against the top racers.

Last year in Levi, the British ski racing community woke up to a new star as Dave Ryding pummelled his way into the top thirty for his first World Cup points. While the Levi slope suited his style of skiing, Ryding placed 26th from a start number of 55. Since then he has gone on to win the Europa Cup Tour and has lowered his FIS points that will also see him start better than his start number of last year. This will be his 13th World Cup start to go alongside his 5 World Championship starts and 2 Olympic Games starts in Vancouver in 2010. This time last year he was ranked 69th in the world, this time he starts ranked 53. Ryding will remain focused and knows himself what he is capable of. This year sees Ryding on new skis, Fischer, and by all reports he has bedded in well with the new equipment.

With Shiffrin and the rest of the Slalom girls hitting the gates on Saturday, the guys will start their slalom season on the Sunday. With a bit of luck the coverage from Eurosport will include all the first runs on both days. They admitted  the problems encountered during the Soelden first run for the men had been due to a previous live event having overrun. With both races held under the lights, the flat-ish slope should help both racers.