We’ve been loving winter sports this season so when we got the chance to speak with Alpine skier Dave Ryding, we couldn’t wait to share it with you. Ryding, who learnt to ski on a dry slope at Pendle Ski Club, has been a member of the British ski team since 2006 and competed in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics. This year, he matched Britain’s best ever alpine World Cup result when he finished second in the Kitzbuhel slalom in Austria. All eyes will be on Dave next month when he will be competing in the Delancey British National Alpine Ski Championships.
Image: Dave Ryding Facebook
Tell us about yourself and how you got into the sport?
I started on a dry slope about 45 minutes from my house, called Pendle. I started because my parents used to go on one holiday a year and they used to go skiing for two weeks. They said before I’m allowed to go I have to be able to ski, because they couldn’t afford ski school and didn’t want to be waiting for me. I had no choice really if I wanted to go away on holiday, so it was quite a good incentive.
Congratulations on coming second in the Alpine Ski World Cup this year! You also matched the best ever Alpine World Cup result for Britain. How does that feel?
Kind of surreal, really. I knew I was skiing well this season but I hadn’t really had any goals of anything more than a couple of Top 10 finishes and being consistently in the Top 15. I picked up a Top 10 in my first race and then another one just after Christmas. So to be leading after my first run at the Alpine Ski World Cup was like ‘Crikey, what’s he done here?’, and to hold my nerve for the second run was cool. I thought 1st, 2nd or 3rd is the goal. To see 2nd felt like a win to me anyway because I was just going for one of the top three spots, any one of them would have done.
What would you say is your favourite thing about the sport?
I love the competition, I’ve always been competitive so just being one-on-one with everyone on a mountain is pretty cool and, obviously, you’re in the mountains with really nice scenery. It’s awesome to say that my job now is racing around the Alps or around the world in all these really nice locations. It’s really awesome.
And what does a standard day look like for you when you’re training?
I would probably be up at about 6.30am and on the slopes at 7.30am to train until lunchtime. Then I head back for some lunch and a bit of a break before doing some conditioning work, keeping on top of a few things like recovery and flexibility. And then just chill out as much as possible. Luckily, now I have a service man who can tune my skis for me, I don’t have to worry about that which makes a massive difference. I’ve only had that for the last two years and that’s helped a lot in bringing my level up as well. Not just my work, but a lot of my coach’s and serviceman’s work.
What would you say the hardest thing is about alpine skiing?
Probably the travelling, certainly in January – you’re travelling all around Europe. You’re in Austria at the start of the week, then Croatia on the Thursday and Switzerland by Sunday, then back to Austria and back to Switzerland. There’s a lot of travelling and stress around getting to places in the snow.
What would you have been if you didn’t take this career path?
At school I always wanted to be a teacher if I was going to carry my studies on but I was always into sports, so I couldn’t really imagine doing anything outside of sports. I would probably be some sort of a coach or something. I used to play a lot of football and rugby, but skiing was the one I chose to follow.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your career?
There have been quite a few. Obviously coming from the dry slope has been a long road to where I am now. The most challenging was probably 2 years ago when I just missed the Top 30 in the standings. As a kid my dream was always to be ranked in the Top 30 of the world, but I missed it by 1 point. I thought I’ve done everything I can up to this point and I’ve missed it by 1 World Cup point, am I able to do this? But yeah, my coach got me back out there and I kept working at it.
Where have your favourite places been to visit and compete?
Racing-wise, you go to all of the really cool winter resorts. My favourite would probably be New Zealand when we would go down there training.
Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of getting into the sport?
Just enjoy it! Commit to the path, it’s a long road but it’s achievable. You’ve just got to make sure each day you’re trying to get better for each season. Put in the work, because it is possible.
What’s next on your agenda?
After this break I head back out to Pyhrn-Priel, the region where I do a lot of my training. I head back out there to start training before the World Championships on 19th February. So it’s all gearing towards that now.
Do you come to London much?
I don’t, no, but I probably will get there after the season!
Now tell us, what’s your favourite thing about visiting London Town?
Everything is within a 50-metre walk! You go up north and everything is miles away. Obviously, it’s got many historic venues that are nice to visit too and a lot of history around it.
Delancey is proud to be a sponsor of British Ski and Snowboard (BSS), which is the National Governing Body for Skiing and Snowboarding in the UK. They provide incredible opportunities for athletes to achieve their full potential in the sport – both as individuals, and as a team. Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we meet more young members of BSS.