Nicole Ritchie posted the fastest time on both run without getting out of second gear in taking her second win on the bounce. Alannah Lawrie rose to the challenge after having been … bumped off the podium in the slalom to take the runner up spot and the star of the slalom, Eilidh Ryan took third. Using a get out of jail card, Carla Gardiner, took fourth overall ahead of Rachel Brown.
The Giant Slalom at Hillend is one of only two times that the racers do Giant Slalom in the summer, the other being at Pontypool. The format is fun and gives the racers something different to do apart from the endless runs of slalom. Hillend, with its steep top half and gentle lower section added to the length is unique and a challenge for all.
Ritchie is one of the leading dry mat racers of her time. The problem for her is that she needs competition and can only beat those that are in the same race as her. When she is the class of the field, it can lead her into a false sense of security, as while a victory is nice, it does not challenge her greatly. While this is no disrespect to her competition, they are at different stages of their careers, Ritchie needs to extend herself if she is to improve. Snow is where she should be focussing her career now and with another double win on the mat in her own National Championships, this would be a great way of signing off her dry mat career. Ritchie did well to post what would have been the fourth best time in the Menâ€™s race. When you are this far ahead in the girls race (or your own age group) comparing with better groups is the way to improve. Getting out of the comfort zone is what is now needed.
Alannah Lawrie, winner of the inaugural Craig MacFie award two years ago, raised her game after finishing fourth in the Slalom the day before. While Ritchie was ahead of her by almost three quarters of a second after the first run, Lawrie had just under a half second buffer on the rest of the field. The second run was a tighter affaire and while she extended her lead over Eilidh Ryan by a mere four hundredths of a second, the rapidly improving Gardiner was getting closer as well. Lawrie held on to take second.
Eilidh Ryan raised her stock and increased her stack of medals with third place overall. She will be a future overall winner of the Scottish Dry Mat races, both in Slalom and Giant Slalom but third place this year was a fair result.
Carla Gardiner was fortunate to execute a turn on the steep that saw her crash through a gate dragging the flag three gates before it disengaged with her on the first run. While the gate judges gave her the benefit of the doubt, Gardiner used her good fortune to good effect and while exams and other commitments meant she had done little training coming into the races, fourth place overall was her reward.
There were age group wins for Jemma Clark (Under 14), Alannah Lawrie (Under 16), Kate Taylor (Under 18), Nicole Ritchie (Under 21) and Carla Gardiner (Senior).
Picture: Eilidh RyanÂ on herÂ way to third inÂ the Giant Slalom at Hillend in the Scottish Championships. Credit Racer Ready – all rights reserved
More pictures available to see onÂ www.racer-ready.ifp3.com