It has been a great couple of days for David Ryding: A first win on the Europa Cup tour was followed up with a tremendous and confidence inspiring sixth place in the Obereggen Europa Cup Slalom. … Obereggen traditionally pulls in some of the bigger names on the World Cup tour and this year Manfred Pranger, 2009 World Champion, joined the likes of Julien Lizeroux and other World Cup regulars Axel Beck, Mathias Hargin and others in the race. With the satisfaction of having won his first Europa Cup slalom in the memory bank, Ryding was now looking ahead to the next race. The win in Pozza had cemented his place in the elite top seven on the Europa Cup tour but this was the next race, the win was in the past.
Ryding had had a great weekend just prior to Obereggen. San Viglio was a City Event meaning that Ryding had to qualify in the morning, “it is not like the World Cup as you had to qualify in the morning,” he explained. “I qualified in third with a decent run but very safe making sure I got down as I needed the Europa Cup points after a shocking start to the season.” Ryding aimed to make at least the quarter final and reached that goal and the evening shoot out.
With another slalom taking place the following evening in nearby Pozza, Ryding felt relaxed from not having to have done so many runs on the knockout event. Last year he went further but then felt tired the next day. With many of the regulars on the Europa Cup tour racing in Val d’Isere at the World Cup, Ryding used the Pozza race as a chance to score some valuable Europa Cup points.
“I went into Pozza fresher than some of the others,” he explained, “Thankfully I had managed to keep myself in the top seven (seeds) after the duel. I did not have a good run as the steep was really turny and then nearly fell inside coming onto the flat, so i was pretty disappointed to be eighth or ninth after the first run.” For the second run, with the World Cup on, Ryding admitted that he felt this was a chance to close the gap on the leaders in the Europa Cup tour. “I was telling myself to let it go as it was a little straighter set and if you hold back, you are slow as hell. I hit the rhythm, hit the ruts and it worked, I held on to the end, something that has not happened before.”
Does Ryding feel that having got the first win on the Europa Cup Tour that that is a monkey off his shoulder? “Not so much the monkey off the shoulder but the FIS point result was important.” Ryding scored a 7.29 result in winning the race in Pozza. “Now I have something to build on and go forwards from, until you get that first FIS point result, you are always chasing points and it is in the back of your mind what you have scored this year. Ideally I want another seven point result now.”
With only the points from this season counting, Ryding has an 11 point result from New Zealand as his second result. “After the first few races, it is nice to be competitive again,” Ryding grinned.
“I put a lot of work in in the summer,” Ryding explained. After the start to the season, he felt that he had started to go backwards yet a period at home saw him take stock of things and put things right he feels. A four day training camp at his base in Austria sorted out a few technical issues.
It was a hard start to the season for Ryding as the pressure of being the Europa Cup Champion from 2012 – 3 took its toll on him. “I sometimes doubt myself. When you have all the World Cup guys out there and you are going out 1 and it was icy, bib 1 was not the one to go really,” he explained, “That was a terrible start and I was then at home, thinking what am I doing, but thankfully with Tristan’s work and my work, it has come back together.”
Obereggen has been a regular haunt for Ryding, this is the sixth time he has raced there, he likes the slope with its long flat at the top followed by a steep section before a flat section into the finish. The good conditions normally mean good races. With the sixth place in the race, did he feel that he could have been a little closer in? “The first run I miss inspected the last six gates, I thought it was a little straighter and made a mistake that cost me some time. On the second run I did not go at it on the first ten gates as much as I should have. I could have been quicker so it is a little disappointing.”
Ryding knows that last year he was at the same stage and getting the same places but this year rather than focusing on the Europa Cup Tour title he is more after FIS points to get a better start on the World Cup. “Sixth is good today but I could have maybe been a little closer. It is always nicer to finish the day knowing that you could not have been quicker, I did not do that as I could have been quicker.”
This year Ryding has had company on the Europa Cup Tour as Nick Moynihan made his Europa Cup debut in Norway. Ryding likes the fact that Moynihan, Jack Gower and Charlie Raposo are all making headway in the results. Although he is eight years older than the trio, he is looking forward to the day when they all race with him, “I would like team mates!”
With great support from Delancey from the Team BSS perspective and increased support from C-Tec, Vital and Kandahar as well as support from race events like the recent Lions Ski Club organised event have helped. As the defending Europa Cup Champion, support has also come from his kist suppliers Fischer and recently Bolle. With performance related clauses included, results are talking.
At Obereggen it was very obvious the number of servicemen helping athletes. After winning the Tour title last year, is Ryding still doing his own skis? Yes. While he admits to getting better and getting help from Fischer with this, he does find it hard to get going after a hard day training, time he would prefer to be relaxing and getting his body ready for the next day. “I have got better and it helps that I know what I am doing to my skis and if I need to change things I can do it. It is still a lot of hard work going to a ski room two hours before a race. I would much rather be off my legs.”Â With four pairs in the van travelling around with him to the races, with different moulds and set ups, he has around ten pairs of skis to tune.
With qualifying for the World Cup the goal this year, Ryding feels he has maybe turned the corner, “The World Cup is what matters,” he explained. the Europa Cup has been ticked he feels but the next rung up the ladder is where he wants to be. Ryding does not feel that he will do all the Europa Cup slaloms, it will all depend on how things are going and what Tristan Glasse-Davies decides.
All roads do lead to Sochi but after a short break at home over Christmas, Ryding is looking forward to the double header in Chamonix just after New Year. If you are in the area, get along to support him and Â other Brits racing there.
The goal is not Titles this year, the goal is to win races. Winning races will mean lower FIS points and that helps with the start number in the World Cup.