So near yet just not quite there for Ryding

David Ryding scored his second best result on the World Cup in Kranjska Gora yet still suffered the agony of missing out on the second run in race. Conditions held up well and Ryding was on the cusp of … securing his second World Cup result all the way down but, in his own words, he ran out of steam in the final section. The final slalom of the World Cup regular season was won by Felix Neureuther after first run leader Mario Matt straddled the final gate with victory in his grasp. Fritz Dopfer took second with Henrik Kristofferson in third.

For Ryding this was looking like a great opportunity for him to add to the result from Levi in 2012. The Kranjska Gora slope suits Ryding and his style. the long flat section at the top of the course means you have to work the skis hard and fast to get the most out of them. Last time Ryding was here he drove away with the Europa Cup title, this time he came agonisingly close to going away with a second World Cup result. “It was good at the top,” Ryding explained after his run, “then I started to get a little tired and was not able to be as clean as I wanted to be. In the end this cost me.”

Ryding hit the depths in January he explained and yet now feels that he is “skiing good now. I have turned it around and I am skiing really good.” On this performance, it is hard not to associate the performance with the plucky British tag – so near and yet so far. Ryding certainly skied the flat well and then the steep was better than he had skied in past goes. Yet his run in to the finish just seemed to run out of steam in the final two gates. Had he pushed and fought that little harder for the line, the 18 hundredths that denied him a second run, could well have been saved. Ryding admitted afterwards that he tends to finish on the flat of his skis usually and felt that this may have been the wrong tactic this time. “I felt that I was going too fast to push and Tristan said that I lost it all there. It is frustrating as hell.”

Ryding now moves on to the defence of his Europa Cup Title with the last race in Soldeu next Wednesday. Ryding feels that he has turned the corner and is running on the confidence gained from the Olympics. “Training has been really good. It is a shame i was so close but not in,” Ryding reflected.

With the World Cup over now for Ryding, how does he feel this season has gone? “It has been like a big dipper, if I look back I have not achieved my goals but at the same time I am definitely improving. January I was on a real low and not very good on the World Cups, since then I have really stepped up again and feel a lot better. It certainly motivates me for the summer. I am sure that next year you will see me a lot in the second run, I am sure. I just have to keep working on what is wrong.”

Ryding placed 32nd in the finish yet ended up 34th.

With the goal of making the top thirty again in the World Cup not achieved, the goal of lowering his seed points has been achieved and he has lowered his world ranking but, as he says, “I would certainly have liked more good races than I have had.”

Part of the reason, Ryding feels, that this year has been so up and down is that he has had to redefine his technique after having swapped on to the Fischer skis. Happy with the move and the skis, Ryding feels that it was something that he had to do, “The skis are really good but I have had to change my style,” he explained.

While Ryding rued what might have been, the positives are there. Last season he was ending in the middle forties and this year he is so close to making the flip. The olympic experience has given him more confidence and he will use the remaining races that he enters to try and improve his points that little bit more.

Ryding is definitely in this for the long haul.

Full results from Kranjska Gora