My best is still to come, says ski star Ryding
Chorley skiing star Dave Ryding has targeted 10 more years competing at the top of his sport.
Britain’s top slalom skier may have reached the grand old age of 30 at the back end of last year but he believes his best days are still ahead of him.
It is more than a little ironic that a month after celebrating the landmark birthday – an age when most sportsmen are perceived to be past their best – Ryding recorded his best ever result at a World Cup event.
His second place in Kizbuhel in January was the first time a Briton had finished on the podium since Konrad Bartelski finished runner-up in a downhiller in Italy.
Ryding’s performance in Austria was no fluke neither as throughout the season he recorded six top-10 results.
It has given him a huge amount of confidence that his prime is still ahead of him and he can be the man who finally breaks Britain’s duck and win a World Cup event.
“It’s funny one, in most other sports, people are reaching their peak in their late 20s,” said Ryding.
“But alpine skiing is a skill-based sport and it takes so long to learn the skill of skiing and then get your world ranking to a level where you can compete with the good guys.
“The oldest guy in the top 15 this year is 40-years-old and the youngest guy is about 24. I am right in the middle of it I suppose and I’m right in the heat of the battle, so to speak.”
Ryding returned to the place where it all began for him this week when he paid a visit to Pendle Ski Club.
The 100-metre dry slope which is built on a hillside boasting breathtaking views of Clitheroe and the surrounding villages was where he honed his skills as a youngster.
The fact that the Ribble Valley rarely gets snow illustrates just how remarkable Ryding’s ascension to the top of the sport is.
The club’s head coach Lindsey Allen remembers Ryding as a junior and admits there is an element of surprise to see his rise, purely due to the obstacles that he has had to overcome.
The lack of snow in the UK has meant Ryding has spent most of his professional career playing catch up as the vast majority of his rivals have grown up on the white stuff.
There is also the issue of money for British skiers as the sport is a minority sport and does not receive too much in the way of funding.
However, according to Allen, Ryding never lacked for talent or dedication in his formative years.
Ryding said: “I have obviously received a lot of good coaching and family support when I was younger.
“But I think I have shown a lot of dedication and put a lot of hard work in. More importantly though I have always loved it – it’s never felt like a chore.”