The diary for the Slalom World Cup as 2018 started was brutal. From Oslo on New Year’s Day, it was on to Zagreb, Adelboden and then Wengen. It was three races in six days for Dave Ryding before getting a week off between Adelboden and Wengen and then another week off before Kitzbuehel. Ryding’s stock has risen dramatically in the last year and a half. New sponsors have joined the journey and his small team has grown. It is not yet on the scale of some of the bigger more established alpine nations but Ryding feels British skiing is on the crest of the wave. “These are exciting times for us,” he explained as we sat talking in the run up to Wengen.
Ryding is still in the elite top seven, just one point ahead of his fellow Kandahar Ski Club member, Daniel Yule. Yule may race for Switzerland but the two have good banter as they push each other on.
Ryding is very aware of where he has come from. He knows that he has a unique story and it is this that has appealed to ski racing fans. Seeing fans coming up the train into Wengen wearing the ‘Rocket Ryding’ fan club hats helps to remind Ryding what he is achieving, he achieves one level of result and then immediately he wants to do better, “I do not always think about what I have achieved, it is about the next thing,” he explained. “It is always nice when people remind you where you have come from,” he added, “sometimes you do need reminding as you get caught up in a whirlwind, you forget about these things.”
British racing is having a good time at the moment with podiums from Charlie Raposo out in Korea, World Cup points scoring results by Alex Tilley on the Women’s World Cup. Asked how much interaction between all the British team guys and girls there is, Ryding is keen to promote the current state of British racing.
“I have been wanting to say this for a long time but have not had the right interview to say this. I am taking a lot of the limelight as well as the pressure, so it works both ways. British skiing is, compared to what it was eight years ago, is miles and miles and miles ahead, if not the best it has ever been. I think it is the best ever with me and the guys and what Alex is achieving with the girls has not really been done much better than that in a long time. I think right now people should enjoy it as the likes of Raposo and Taylor are both getting Europa Cup points and Gower is ranked 50 in the world for Super G.” These results Ryding feels are massive especially when he looks back at his early days seven or eight years ago when he scored his first Europa Cup points.
“I kind of feel for the next generation racers, I have raised the bar,” explained Ryding. “There is a lot of good things going on,” he continued. Ryding does think that Alain Baxter’s medal in 2002 would rank alongside this but there is definitely a strength in depth with the British racers at the moment.
Ryding is not one to look at records, set targets and bask in the success of that. After the Zagreb World Cup race, Ryding overtook the British record for number of top ten World Cup results. Martin Bell very graciously acknowledged the success of Ryding on Twitter. It was only last year that Bell himself pointed out that Ryding was the third British guy to have two top ten’s, now he holds the record of seven. With each result, Ryding raises the bar again for the next generation of British racers coming through the system.
The hip injury Ryding sustained in Oslo is feeling better, there is no need for painkillers and Ryding is feeling refreshed and ready for two of the hardest hills on the World Cup. The anger of Levi still irks him and former World Slalom Champion, Germany’s Frank Woerndl believes that if Ryding can keep the anger going, this will benefit him.
Ryding “wants to achieve what I can achieve. If I have a record someone can then chase that. I do not have to have a set number of top ten’s. If I have achieved as much as I can achieve I will be happy. If I have done everything I can when I finish skiing in hopefully eight years, if I can keep going that long, I will be happy. That is the main thing for me.”
The monkey of not having beaten Hirscher has been removed from the equation. Ryding has a huge amount of respect from his peers, the media and the British ski racing public.
Ryding knows everytime he leaves the start gate on the World Cup that he has to step up, there is no easy race. His competitiveness and his desire to leave no stone unturned in pursuit of excellence has seen him train last summer with the likes of Mikaela Shiffrin amongst others and this was something that he observed and learnt from how hard she works. There is no short cut to success. Both racers are supreme masters in what they are achieving.
With increased note from the British press about his exploits, Ryding is humble and extremely friendly. Pictures with fans, autographs and interaction with people from all walks of life is what he does brilliantly. Asked how he feels the media treat him, Ryding explained that he does not expect the media to cover him just because he is on the World Cup. “We have so many good wintersports people and we are getting better and better,” he explained.
“It is down to me to get a podium and to put it back in the press like crazy so on the Monday morning when people are going in to work. I have got to do it. I am aware of that and I am trying to do it,” he ends the interview with.