Dave Ryding claimed a seventh British slalom title of his career in style at the Delancey British National Alpine Ski Championships on Friday, and admits he was honoured to equal Alain Baxter’s record.
A tough course and tricky conditions in Tignes, France ensured a dramatic uvex Men’s National Championship Slalom race, with an incredible 66 of the 122 starters crashing out during the first run.
Colne skier Ryding – who finished 15th at the recent slalom World Cup finals in St Moritz – was not one of those to abandon, as he established a comfortable lead after the first run, before sealing it on run two.
With almost all of his most-likely rivals crashing out, the 29-year-old finished a mammoth 5.06 seconds ahead of Laurie Taylor, with Alex Barounos third.
And although he was heavy favourite going in, Ryding was ecstatic to get job done, joining Baxter – arguably the most recognisable alpine skier in British history – on seven victories in the process.
“The goal was to win the title and I got a really good first run down, so for me it was pretty much signed, sealed and delivered,” explained Ryding.
“Obviously I had to get down on the second run, so it was just making sure that I didn’t do anything stupid.
“It was a shame to see a lot of the good British guys crashing out, although it makes it easier for me I suppose.
“I always feel proud winning the national title, and obviously Alain Baxter has won it seven times and I really wanted to equal that.
“I’ve got seven now, so it makes me really proud to prove I’m still the number one in Britain.
“On paper it looks easy but paper can rip pretty quickly, so you have to get the job done.”
The Delancey British National Alpine Ski Championships finish today and are the biggest event of the year for the British ski racing world – with Delancey as the principal sponsor for the sixth year running.
Despite super-G, downhill and giant slalom also being contested in Tignes, Ryding only competes in the slalom.
The Pendle Ski Club member admits he would love to take part in the other disciplines, but believes the risks are too high as his focus is on slalom on the World Cup circuit.
“I’d love to do the downhill but I just don’t do it regularly, so would be a liability to myself,” added Ryding.
“I wouldn’t risk it – I don’t want to say I’d injure myself because I probably wouldn’t but I’m just not used to the skiing.
“Maybe there will be a time I can do it again but right now I’ve got to focus on getting better and hunting down that top 15 in the world next season if I can.”
The previous week, Ryding claimed another top-15 finish in the final World Cup slalom race of the campaign.
Ryding began the season with his best-ever World Cup finish of 12th in the Val d’Isere slalom in December, rounding it off with a 15th-place in St Moritz, while also having a third top-15 result by coming 13th at Santa Caterina inbetween.
Those results helped him end the campaign 22nd in the slalom rankings, and he said: “Going into the St Moritz race, only the top 15 get points, so to come away with some points was an ideal ending to a great season. It put the icing on the cake and showed I’ve got the speed all the way through the season.
“I’ll think more about targets over the summer but already I want to improve on where I am at the moment which is 22 in the world.”
l To follow the progress of the Delancey British Alpine Ski Team, visit www.teambss.org.uk or follow @teambss on Twitter. As Principal Sponsor of British Ski and Snowboard, Delancey is proud to provide British athletes with the support they require. For more information visit www.delancey.com