2017 was Scotland’s turn to hold the British Alpine Dryslope Championships at Hillend. The slope is the most challenging on the artificial circuit due to its two steep sections and bumpy terrain. Nicole Ritchie, Eilidh Ryan and Jenny Davies all proved that experience counts when tackling the fearsome Hillend slope. Zoe Withorpe and Nicole Shering rounded out the top five.

In the ladies race, the majority of the field were made up of Scottish racers with a sprinkling of English and Welsh racers making the trip north. On paper the low seed point racers were the favourites, but in reality the locals had the real advantage of skiing regularly on a unique slope. Nicole Ritchie has been unbeaten in seven years in the Scottish Championships and she would be up against fellow Scot, Eilidh Ryan with Nicole Shering the leading contender from the south.

The first course was a challenging set with wide aggressive offset turns on the second steep section of the slope. Correct course inspection, line and smoothness were the key ingredients for the first run.

From bib 19, Zoe Winthrope produced a great run that held the overall lead for some time during the first run. Low seeded skiers Carla-Marina Gardiner and Eva Pascoe were unable to challenge her time. It wasn’t until bib 11, Nicole Ritchie, that Winthrope’s time was beaten.

Ritchie used great aggression at the top of the course combined with tactical awareness on the the transitions to the steep, to take the lead. Jenny Davies of Aldershot was the next nearest challenger, she had a very smooth run but went into second place, over a second off the pace.

Elilidh Ryan stepped out the start gate with real conviction. Ryan didn’t put a foot wrong throughout her run and was rewarded with the lead. Her inch perfect line and prowess earned her a two tenth lead going into the second run over Ritchie.

The second run was set up to be an exciting dual between Ryan and Ritchie with Davies comfortably in third place overall. Winthrope, Shering and Pascoe filled the remaining top six places.

The second course was faster in nature but had its own challenges. There were two hairpins on each steep building huge amounts of momentum into some offset turns.

On the second run, Snowtrax’s Nicole Shering took the lead after a much better second run by her standards, moving her up a few places in the overall results. Her lead was short lived though when Winthrope had another impressive run and took the lead from Shering on combined time with three racers left to go.

Davies had a comfortable cushion for her overall podium place, but had over a second to make up to challenge the top two. The Aldershot racer had another well executed run and took the lead from Winthrope.

Next out the start gate was Ritchie, who had a gutsy run to make up time on the first run leader Ryan. Ritchie was a lot more direct in her approach this time and powered through the line to take the lead from Davies, with only Ryan left to go.

Ryan was smooth from top to bottom but couldn’t quite get the direct line Ritchie had on the second run. It was still a very impressive run but wasn’t enough for the overall lead, meaning Ritchie won the British Ladies Dryslope Championship title. Only three hundredths of a second separated Ritchie and Ryan on combined time. An incredibly tight race!

It was a fascinating race between Ritchie and Ryan for top spot and there was some impressive skiing throughout the pack on a technically challenging slope.

The age group wins were taken by Ailsa Hay (under 14, 12th), Eva Pascoe (Under 16, 6th), Eilidh Ryan (Under 18, 2nd Overall), Zoe Winthrope (Under 21, 4th Overall) and Nicole Ritchie (Senior, Race Winner)

For full results click here

Picture – Ritchie competing at the Twin Peaks in June. Picture – credit Racer Ready

Peter Davies