By Dave ‘The Rocket’ Ryding, Alpine Skier and Slalom Specialist
As a child my family went on one ski holiday a year and to be able to go along, I had to learn to ski. I was lucky enough to live by a ski slope, Pendle Hill, and so I went there for my first lesson, and I loved it! I was into a lot of sport as a kid, in particular football, but one thing led to another and before I knew it skiing had become my life. I haven’t looked back.
When I was growing up, I was a fan of skiing all Alpine disciplines, but at the age of 25 and really needing to move up the rankings I turned all my focus to Slalom. It was a big decision to make but this was the discipline that I was the best at and doubling down on the time spent on it really helped me move forward.
For me, the most important mental attribute for Slalom, is the ability to read a course and then be able to ski it at full speed the first time you get the chance to. In terms of physical attributes, it is important to blend all the attributes together and transfer this onto the snow to be a faster skier. In Slalom you have to be strong, but you also have to be agile, so functional strength is important.
I love the mountains, I love the intensity of Slalom and that you need to use a lot of tactics. It is not the fastest Alpine discipline, but it is the discipline with the highest speed of movement so training for this off the snow is also a challenge.
As funny as it sounds it isn’t always easy to get in the zone before a big event, but having a goal is definitely a starting point. It might not always be that your goal is to win and quite often it isn’t, but it is important that you have a focus point of what you are going out to achieve.
It is important that you surround yourself with likeminded people. My coach is a big driver in my skiing, he is as determined as I am, so to have someone who doesn’t let you drop the ball is very important. To be honest the whole GB Snowsport team is constantly developing and helping to get the most out of the athletes. In terms of my inspirations I cannot leave out my family and fiancée because their support is so, so important, they let me single mindedly follow my passion whilst, I must be honest, not always giving them as much attention as I should.
Outside the sport, I like to follow other successful sports people, but I am really interested in those who offer a personality to their sport, too. I like to see sports people also be able to have some fun whilst they train as hard as anyone else because adding this side to a sportsperson makes them so much better to watch and relate to.
My two World Cup podiums were huge on-snow moments for me, a great reward to all the work that had gone in, but I also love the feeling of a good day’s training and my coaches all smiling while working hard.
Moving forward, I am excited for next season to see the hard work and training pay off, it is an important season so it will be exciting for us athletes and fans.
I have one piece of advice for those that are looking to get into Alpine skiing, as you will be in for a hell of a ride. Make yourself a great sportsperson first, work on your work ethic and morals. Once you have these in place you can start to think about taking on the big nations and beating them in their own backyards.