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Dave Ryding started skiing on a family holiday at the age of six. It was enough to get him hooked and he joined Pendle Ski Club, training and racing on the UK dry slope scene. It led him all the way to the World Cup slalom circuit – transferring the skills learnt on plastic, to snow. In 2017, he came second at the Kitzbuhel World Cup slalom and finished the overall standings in 8th, notching up six top 10 results on the way. He finished 9th in the slalom at the 2018 Winter Olympics and says he wants to challenge for a medal at the next Games in 2022.
PARALLEL TRAILS: It's been well documented that you started skiing on your local dry slope and have made it all the way to the World Cup slalom circuit - is it conceivable that other British skiers can follow in your footsteps?
DAVE RYDING: Yes! I am human just like the next person and I have shown that this route is possible. I hope to hell people see this as a viable path and give it everything like it did! Nobody had done it this way before me, but now I have I hope it really motivates our younger generation.
PT: What made you choose skiing over more traditional sports - did your parents encourage you to take it up or were family skiing holidays an important factor?
DR: My parents went on one family ski holiday a year and to go I had to be able to ski. We were not in a financial position to just put me into ski school for two weeks and my parents wanted to be able to relax and have fun skiing as well. This isn’t to say I didn’t do any traditional sports. I did lots of sports and was playing football and rugby for local teams until I was around 15 or 16 years old. I just seemed to love skiing and the mountains that bit more.
PT: The UK has a good spread of dry slopes and indoor snow centres - why should children and young people be encouraged to get along to their local slope?
DR: To have fun most of all! It’s great fun skiing full stop but if you are a competitive person like me then I was wanting to race too after a year of skiing.
PT: Once you've got your children hooked on skiing, what's more important: doing a course of lessons and achieving badges or free skiing around the mountain and having fun?
DR: Do both. I never really did any snow badges as such, I was always just free skiing with my family, but when I was back in the UK I was training twice a week to get better.
PT: What would you say to families who are thinking about taking their children skiing for the first time, but who aren't sure whether to take the plunge - what are the benefits?
DR: The benefits are endless. I think skiing is a sport that gives you some of the most benefits out of all sports. For example, commitment – you have to learn to turn up to training on time and be able to focus on what your coach tells you. And you go away on training camps, so as a child you learn very early how to fend for yourself. Then there is discipline – you have to do as you’re told and learn to respect others but also how to follow a stricter lifestyle (but not to say you can’t have fun with your mates!). I am a firm believer that if you make it to a high level in sports, it has a direct correlation to being successful in other things, such as business, due to the fact you know how to work hard! You get nowhere without hard work in life!
PT: The profile of skiing and other winter sports seems to be rising in the UK - is it time more funding went into the sport and grassroots ski racing?
DR: Yes I think it is because if you look at the numbers of people who go skiing on holiday from the UK you will see that actually it is a widely participated sport. But I also feel the individual national governing bodies can do much more than they are to get participation levels up. This is something I may go into after my skiing career.
PT: Away from racing, what is your favourite ski resort and why?
DR: Obergurgl - anyone who has been will agree with me that it has everything you could ever want from a ski resort. Great variety of pistes, endless amounts of safe off-piste skiing, and the value for money in Austria in general is insane, hotels are on a different level to other nations for the money you pay and - I’m told - the après ski scene really gets going in the afternoons on the side of the pistes!
PT: You've recently changed brands for boots and race skis - can we expect Rocket Ryding to go even faster this coming season?
DR: That is the plan - I didn’t change for any other reason than the Dynastar skis and Lange boots are absolutely awesome!
PT: You've achieved a World Cup podium and an Olympic top ten - what's next for Dave Ryding? What can you achieve this season?
DR: It’s a question that only time will tell. I don’t like shouting about results I could achieve. I know my potential and I know my speed, but we’ve heard it all before about I will do this and I will do that from other skiers. My results will speak for me. And when it’s time to stop with my career then we will talk about what I have achieved! It’s already more than I could have dreamt of as a child. I will always be proud of my career, but I’ve only been warming up the last three years!
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