Second's best so far for ski star Ryding
Chorley skiing sensation Dave Ryding broke out into a little smile when I asked him to recall his historic performance in Kitzbuhel earlier this year.
The 30-year-old slalom specialist wrote his name into the annals of time when he became the first British skier to finish on the podium of a World Cup event since 1981.
His superb second-place finish on the slopes of the small medieval Austrian town – considered to be one of the meccas of the sport – was the best performance by a British alpine skier at elite level since Konrad Bartelski came second in a downhill in Italy more than 30 years ago.
Although his result has been rightly lauded, I was dying to know whether there was any part of him disappointed that he had not actually won the event. Ryding was eventually edged out by Austria’s Marcel Hirscher after leading the field following the first run.
“To be honest there was no disappointment at finishing second,”said Ryding, who hails from the village of Bretherton.
“If I had seen either first, second or third position after the second run, I think I would have had the same reaction.
“Everybody was telling me that it was 30-odd years since the last Brit finished on a World Cup podium. I had never really thought about winning the event even though I was leading after the first round. It’s such a difficult piste, I just knew that I had so far still to go on the second run.
“So when I crossed the line and saw that I had finished second, you obviously can’t say it’s the same emotion as winning but being on the podium was certainly cool.”
The past season has certainly been a breakthrough year for Ryding, who this week returned to Pendle Ski Club, where he first took up the sport as a junior.
He managed six top-10 finishes during the World Cup season and with the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on the horizon early next year, he is certainly a contender for a medal.
“So people say,”Ryding joked. “But yes I’m ranked ninth in the world and anyone ranked around the top 10, you have to take seriously for an Olympic medal.”