Dave Ryding reflects on his, and the team’s, impressive first event of the season at Gurgl last week.
Dave, it’s impressive that you moved up 11 positions after the first run to secure 4th place overall, only one-hundredth of a second behind the all-Austrian podium. Can you walk us through your mindset and strategy going into that second run?
My mindset for the second run was very much similar to the first, I was just trying to bring the mental intensity and focus like I always do and let the skis go a bit more. I changed the setup slightly for the second run which I was hoping would make a bit of a difference, and it did. I felt great on the skis when I set off, so then it was just about getting into the rhythm and going as hard as I could the whole way down.
Billy Major finished 16th with the 4th best time in the second run, and Laurie Taylor had a strong first run despite not finishing the second. How does the camaraderie among the British skiers contribute to the team’s overall performance, and did you share any insights or strategies with each other during the event?
The camaraderie between the Brits is pretty awesome. We train a lot together in the summer obviously, so we have a really good vibe, a real competitive spirit and we like to compete against each other in training which is really important. Come race day, we have a real British feel to it, and we try to help each other where we can. I gave them a course support on the first run and then had a quick insight from Billy on the second run about how the course was, so we are definitely able to draw upon each other on race day and it certainly pushes our levels up in training.
Gurgl is a resort where you spend a lot of time training. Did the familiarity with the venue play a role in your outstanding performance, and how has the partnership with Gurgl impacted your preparation for this season?
Coming into the season I was training in Scandinavia because the snow comes down earlier. I came to Gurgl on the Wednesday before the race, but knowing the first race was in Gurgl, I think it made sure that I maximised preparations coming in because I certainly wanted to give back to Gurgl a good result which thankfully I did. So, it certainly kept my mind really focussed coming in, and as soon as I got there, the emotions that I have in Gurgl are really warm and positive, so that was nice as well.
The men’s overall Nations Cup standings currently have Britain in 4th place after the first World Cup of the season. How does this ranking set the tone for the rest of the season, and what are the team’s goals moving forward?
With the Nations Cup, it is nice to be in 4th, but I think realistically, we should look only at the Slalom Nations Cup for the future because that is where we have a realistic chance of maybe staying around 4th or a Top 5. That’s definitely on my mind, can we beat some of these alpine nations like the French or the Germans. Maybe the Italians are a step ahead because they have so many but if we can challenge some of these alpine nations, I think it really starts getting them worried and shows them that we are a force to be reckoned with and the future is only going to get brighter.
Image credit: @magnuswalch