With the first Slalom of the 2018/19 FIS World Cup just around the corner up at Levi, we managed to squeeze Dave Ryding into the hot seat for a pre-season interview. After an interesting 2017/18 campaign we were keen to find out how the British Number 1 had been keeping over the summer and how he was feeling going into the race on the 18th of November. It always great to hear from Dave and get an insight into how things are inside the BSS World Cup Team. Here’s what he had to say.
SRS: So a year later from our last blog with yourself, how would you sum up the 2017/18 winter?
DR: All in all it was a tough year, after the 2017 season a lot of expectation was built up, not only from myself but everywhere I went. I wanted to kick on from such a good season in 2017 however I think I needed more time to make the next step. I had moments of great skiing, Levi for one until I fell, I was leading until the last split in Madonna, I won the 2nd run in Kitzbuhel, 9th at the Olympics.. so when you put this on paper it sounds good, but I couldn’t get 2 good runs together on the same day. My usual consistency had gone missing. But I am still ranked 14th in the World in Slalom, so it’s a hell of an achievement. But I’m still hungry for more.
SRS: It was big news when you announced that you were returning to Dynastar/Lange, can you give us some insight on making that decision?
DR: Firstly, Dynastar feels like home to me. Having done so many seasons on the skis and Lange boots growing up, winning the 2013 Europa Cup title with them, only to leave that summer, I feel I have unfinished business with the brand. I have spent the last 5 years always with one eye on how they are performing and I felt the time was right to make the switch back. I tested the skis for 2 days in spring, the feeling in the boot was great, it literally felt like I hadn’t left and my ‘natural’ stance from when I was young felt right there again! The ski was sensational when I tried it, I signed that paper as soon as I physically could!! I would like to say I am eternally grateful for my time with Fischer and I achieved more than I ever thought possible! I feel reinvigorated!
SRS: We’ve noticed the British Team is growing, has having a bigger team around yourself and Laurie helped you in anyway?
DR: I am very grateful for the work put in by the people behind the scenes and BSS, having lived through the depths of the previous federation, I can honestly say BSS have given me the platform to achieve and its down to me to step up. I have had to work for it, but it’s come at the right time! In a way I am glad there have been hard times.. it has made me a much stronger person on and off the piste!
I have enjoyed this summer, maybe more than ever. Laurie has joined the WC Slalom Team for this season and has been a shot of fresh air to everyone, myself included! I’m not going to lie, after doing 7 years on my own I wasn’t sure how I would find having another athlete on the team with me.
Its nice also to see the Europa Cup/FIS team growing and establishing itself, we have some great talent which can now hopefully be nurtured through.
SRS: Are you in a confident state of mind ahead of the new season?
DR: I’m content I would say. Get over confident and someone will slap you down pretty hard, I know the score and I know what’s to come. It’s a long season.
SRS: Pizza or Pie?
DR: Pie, and a Steak one at that! From the local Pie shop of course!
SRS: Good shout!
We decided to let our/your fans on Facebook ask you a few questions to spice things up.
Ali Hills asks how have you managed to get as far as you have from a Dryslope background and no funding?
DR: My family sacrificed a lot! And I don’t mean this lightly, I am so fortunate that my parents (and wider family) gave up their lives to help me! I often ask myself would I be able to do what they did for me if I am one day fortunate to be a parent myself… I still don’t know the answer!
I also had some good fortune on my side in terms of getting some sponsors supporting me early (and they still are today) C-tec, is a local company run and built by Andrew Foster. Andrews son James was also a good skier and a member of the English Ski Team. C-tec have been with me since my first season ‘full time’ and never wavered in support. Kandahar Ski Club are much the same, every single year they believed in me and helped me in my journey. VITAL Marketing came on board 3 years later, Jeremy Eaton who had children of his own to support also at England Team Level wanted to help me. Throw Dynastar into the mix thanks to Scott Dobson and they are the people who helped me in my first years of this wild venture! I will always be indebted to the generosity of these people.
As for coming from the Dryslope, it has just been a constant journey of wondering how I can improve myself on and off the pistes. I learnt so much on Dryslope, which many people probably still under value as part of my foundations to my skiing now. I would never have started racing if it wasn’t for Dryslope!
The rest is down to sheer Northern Grit.
SRS: Peter Davies wants to know who your favourite skier growing up?
DR: The Highlander!! Alain Baxter.
SRS: Dave Longdon is interested in your ski prep. Could you give us some insight into what goes into servicing of your skis?
DR: Ski prep is one thing… I try lots of different edge angles, etc but in terms of actual ski prep it isn’t to dissimilar to most racers. The big difference is having the ability to change the set up of the ski and this is where having the full support of Dynastar really comes in.
I have already over 20 sets of Slalom skis, I constantly change the ramp angles, different plates, edge angle, what tunes the edge (hand, Snowglide, Trione) and I have 4 different ski models. It’s a lot of work in the summer finding the best for every condition, and that’s before you start on the boots!
SRS: Rob Chandler and Toby Tarrent are keen to know your thoughts on the use of Ceramic on Dryslope?
DR: The Devils word.. haha.. or so many people say… there is a real split of opinion on this on the Dryslope scene! Here’s my take…
You can get away with some pretty bad skiing by using it which really doesn’t help the sport in the long run, but it can probably make you a bit quicker in the short term. Bad skiing will never be faster than good dynamic skiing on the Dryslope! So I would stay away from it for that reason.
I used it once, just under the binding of the ski when I was at Ipswich on some pretty horrendous matting. But other than that, a ski tuned well will give you plenty of grip!!
SRS: Final one from us, you are launching a new range of Fan Club Merch today, can you tell fans your favourite item of that range?
DR: It has to be the hats this year! I really enjoy making the designs (or should I say supporting my Girlfriend in making the designs) and I hope everyone likes the items! To see some of the items in the crowds of World Cups is really cool! It can be pretty lonely on the tour so to see Union Jacks about is awesome, and to see people supporting the clothing gives me that bit more motivation to do well also!
Dave has released his new 2019 range of Official Merchandise and you can check it out on the link below. Please note that all proceeds go to Dave, we do not profit in anyway from the purchase of his gear. You can catch the first WC Slalom of the year on Sunday the 18th of November on British Eurosport. 9.15am GMT is the start so have your TV sets at the ready, the Rocket will be accompanied by fellow Brit Laurie Taylor. We cannot wait!
Good luck to all Brits racing in Levi on the 17th (ladies) and 18th (mens), we’ll be rooting for you all!