Ryding is genuine medal contender

Dave Ryding
Dave Ryding

Dave Ryding reckons he’s very much in ‘with a shout’ as he bids to become Great Britain’s first ever Winter Olympic slalom medal winner.

The 31-year-old Chorley skier – who hails from the small village of Bretherton – goes for gold next week in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

As a bona fide member of the world’s top 10, Ryding is certainly a genuine medal contender – even if the weight of history is against him.

No skier from this country – both male and female – has ever won an Olympic medal in the slalom – although Scotsman Alain Baxter did finish third at the 2002 Games before being controversially disqualified after a failed drugs test.

After finishing 27th and 17th respectively at the past two Olympics in Vancouver and Sochi respectively, Ryding is very much at the peak of his powers.

Last season, he enjoyed a break-through campaign at World Cup level – becoming the first Brit to achieve a podium position since Konrad Barteski in 1981 when he came second at Kitzbuhel.

This season, although he has not quite hit those heights, he has maintained his position among the world’s elite – agonisingly missing out on winning the World Cup event, in Levi, Finland.

At the top of the leaderboard after the first run, he extended his lead during the second run before a fatal error saw him crash out.

“Obviously last year I took a big step,” said Ryding. “This year my best result has been sixth, so I am certainly in there with a shout in terms of the Olympics.

“This season has been a little up and down if I’m honest.

“I’ve had some very fast runs but also a lot of runs with mistakes.

“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride and certainly more of a fight than last season, but there’s still a lot of good things to take from it.

“What happened in Levi was pretty painful for a while – it took me a long time to get over that.

“But it still showed me that the potential is there and on my day what I am capable of doing.

“The main thing for me at the Olympics is to ski well, control what I can do well and then see what happens.”