As the FIS World Alpine Skiing Championship 2017 drew to a close in St Moritz in Switzerland, we saw an exciting finale in the form of the slalom event. For the first time in over a decade Britain had a real medal contender in the form of Dave Ryding. His place already established in the worlds top 10 slalom racers, after some incredible results, he entered the race with a confidence befitting the relaxed consistency he has skied with this season. To achieve a podium he knew he had to be close or beat the two undoubted current stars of the event Marcel Hirsche from Austria and Henrik Kristoffersen from Norway.
Despite Rydings lack of funding in UK Sport, Olympic gold or nothing funding approach, he has managed to claw his way up the world rankings, until for the last two seasons success has finally brought this incredible talent some realistic funds and top ten ranking.
Today saw him take the challenge a stage further by completing the most superb first slalom run achieving 4th place only beaten by three Austrians. At the same time beating one of the two big names Henrik Kristoffersen . The only skier to look significantly faster than him was Hirscher who was, what is a huge gap in slalom , 0.43 seconds ahead of Ryding.
Sadly things didn’t continue in that vein, while the race continued to tight, in the second run Dave Ryding, unfortunately made a few small errors, resulting in him dropping away and out of the medal contention into 11th position. Also this pressure and the poor racing conditions of having a late starting number, saw two of the three Austrians ahead of him also drop out of metal positions.
Instead Felix Neureuther, Germany’s is number one slalom racer, took the bronze medal, with another of the Austrians Manuel Feller taking silver. Nirscher continued his dominance and and swept to gold medal position with a gap of 0.68 sec, the second he had taken at the championships.
Despite Rydings failure to take a medal, his storming first run, bodes well for the rest of the World Cup season and shows he will be capable of being a medal contender at the next Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea next year.