World Cup winner Dave Ryding maybe the old man on the ski circuit but he's at the peak of his powers

Dave Ryding reckons all those skipped après-ski drinking sessions helped him strike World Cup gold aged 35.

By Tom Harle
Sunday, 23rd January 2022, 3:47 pm
Updated Sunday, 23rd January 2022, 3:48 pm

The Rocket first strapped on skis aged six but is ageing like a fine alpine wine, winning all four of Great Britain' s top-level medals since turning 30.

The single biggest building block for that longevity has been a sheltered lifestyle and Chorley ace Ryding credits that for his stunning slalom success at Kitzbuhel.

“In my twenties, I didn’t go out partying," said Ryding.

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Dave Ryding on his way to victoryin Kitzbuhel

"I’ve always done my training and I think that does pay off in later life. I’m doing better numbers in the gym and running than I’ve ever done. I get the odd joke about being the old guy, don’t get me wrong, but I enjoy that as well!

“I trained my whole life to get into the top 30 in the world and now I’m there, so why not carry on.

“I’ve learned how to be committed and now it’s a way of life. I get up some mornings and can’t be bothered to go to the gym - but I just roll out of the door and I never miss a session.

“I’m 34. But I feel good, and I’m still here. Coming to the top later means my motivation is still right up there."

12 days before the Winter Olympics open in Beijing, Ryding soared from sixth to first with runs of 51.40 and 49.86 for a 1:41.26 winning total.

Talk has inevitably turned to Ryding's chances of claiming Olympic gold at the fourth attempt. His ninth-place finish last time out in PyeongChang was Team GB's best result in 30 years.

The field looks wide open with Austria's Johannes Strolz and Norway's Lucas Braathen claiming shock World Cup wins in recent weeks, with Frenchman Clement Noel having set the standard since PyeongChang.

"I don't define myself by the Olympics but I would love to cap it off with a good Olympic result," added Ryding, one of over 1,000 athletes who are able to train full-time, access the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support thanks to National Lottery funding.

"I don't take the World Cup as any less than the Olympics, I treat every race as my Olympics and do or die, life or death.

"Thinking about it that probably isn't the best thing, because you put too much pressure on yourself!

"When I'm feeling good, I don't feel pressure because I'm expecting to do well. But you can't be at your best for the whole season and you're going to have dips.

"I've just got to go in the start gate and go again, because that's what all the top skiers do."

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