Pendle World Cup Slalom Skier Loses Funding

Dave Ryding – Lancastrian Skier Has World Cup Funding Cut

British slalom skier Dave Ryding will line up as one of the medal contenders at the Alpine World Ski Championships in Courchevel on Sunday after “gritting his teeth” through the “mental stress” of a cut to his funding just weeks before the start of the season. It was announced in July that the British Alpine team would no longer be “investible for World Class Programme Funding” because of cuts made by UK Sport after the team failed to hit their performance target at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

The exact breakdown of the funding cuts has not been made public, but GB Snowsport confirmed to BBC Sport that year-on-year funding for the men’s alpine squad fell by fifty four percent, with those changes coming into force in September. Speaking about losing the funding Dave Ryding said, “That was seriously mentally fatiguing it was a lot of stress coming into a season,” especially as he is also getting used to life as a new parent, after wife Mandy gave birth to their first child, Nina, in the summer.

“I know how to get my mind in the game for a season, but to have to expend so much energy in September and October, it 100% had a negative effect on me for this season. I was staring down the barrel of not being able to afford a coach. Thankfully, we had one or two guys at the federation GB Snowsport who were able to help out. So I am just gritting my teeth and cracking on that’s what I have always done and it is the only way.

The veteran skier, goes into Sunday’s slalom which is the final event of the World Championships and available to watch live on the BBC from 8.45am. Ranked eleventh in the world, following five top twenty finishes in eight World Cup races this season. Ryding followed up his record win in Kitzbuhel last season, when the Pendle-born skier became the first Briton and oldest man ever to win a World Cup slalom race with a second-place finish at the same event in January this year. It was the sixth World Cup podium of his career, all of which have come since he turned thirty.

Ryding added, “I think I am still motivated and still hungry because I wasn’t winning at twenty. I got my first win at thirty-five and my first podium aged thirty. So the hunger is still there,” said the Lancastrian. “I am motivated by trying to beat these records, I’ve been the oldest World Cup slalom winner, can I be the oldest on the podium?”

That record was set by Italian Giuliano Razzoli, when he finished third at last season’s World Cup in Wengen, aged thirty-seven. Ryding said, “I will only be able to beat that if I ski next year, so there is a bit of motivation there.” He will only decide at the end of this season whether to carry on competing, but it is clear his passion for the sport and will to win still burn brightly.

His motivation at this year’s World Championships is obvious to be the first British man ever to win a medal. It will be his eighth and potentially last, crack at the biennial event. Previous attempts have not matched his World Cup exploits with an eleventh place at St Moritz in 2017 and ninth at Are in 2019 are his only finishes.”I want to keep challenging, I don’t just want to go there and chalk off another World Champs,” Ryding said. “I am definitely capable of doing the best skiing I have ever done. At the last World Champs I was skiing great but crashed. I would like to finish my career with somewhere better than ninth, put it that way.”

Another Olympic Cycle ‘Makes Me Want to Shrivel Up & Cry’ 

Winning a medal in Courchevel would be a perfect way to end what has been an excellent ground breaking career. Only one thing would be missing Olympic success. Ryding’s best finish at an Olympics is ninth at Pyeongchang in 2018. He said after winning in Kitzbuhel last January, three weeks before the Beijing Games, that Mandy, then his fiancee, would have something to say if he continued on another Olympic cycle. At that time, she was pregnant and the future was less clear. Ryding now admits to some regrets, after a “huge comedown” from Kitzbuhel affected his performance and he finished 13th in China.

The last Olympics came at the wrong time for me,” he said. “After training my whole life to win a World Cup race, to finally achieve that at thirty-five years old, the comedown after Kitzbuhel was huge. The Olympics were the last thing I honestly wanted to do at that time, but I still gave it my all.” So could he now envisage staying on to give it another shot at Milan-Cortina in 2026? To be honest, it makes me want to shrivel up and cry if I think about training for another four-year cycle. Once I commit to a season then I know I will go all in, but if I try and think about the Olympics in four years then I feel like I will be prone to maybe trying to pace myself.”

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