Britain's wait for an alpine skiing medal goes on after Dave Ryding leaves himself with too much to do

Ben Bloom
The Telegraph
Britain's Dave Ryding competing in the Men's Slalom - AFP
Britain's Dave Ryding competing in the Men's Slalom - AFP

“I prefer to attack than be attacked,” explained Dave Ryding, still full of hope after a measured first run had put him 13th at the halfway stage of the Olympic men’s slalom final.

Alas, the deficit was too great to make up. A more purposeful second effort saw him claw back a few places but the result was a ninth-place finish and Britain’s wait for an alpine skiing medal goes on.

Hopes had been raised that Ryding could be the man to end Britain’s winless streak after his first World Cup podium finish – and Britain’s first for 36 years – at the start of 2017.

Of course, Alain Baxter initially claimed Olympic bronze at the Salt Lake City 2002 Games only to be stripped of the medal after failing a drugs test.

It was Baxter’s performance that encouraged Ryding to dream big and he came to Pyeongchang ranked 10th in the world.

The most technically challenging of the four Olympic alpine skiing disciplines, slalom eschews pure speed in favour of agility and the ability to zig-zag rapidly across the course with gates packed tightly together in a relentless barrage of turns.

Winter Olympics 2018: Best pictures from South Korea's PyeongChang games
Winter Olympics 2018: Best pictures from South Korea's PyeongChang games

Switzerland’s four-time World Cup slalom champion Marcel Hirscher had started the competition as a strong favourite but his effort to win a third Olympic title in Pyeongchang ended in its infancy when he overshot an early turn and failed to complete his initial run.

Incredibly, only 52 of the 108 starters even managed to finish the course with their opening effort, making Ryding's decision to keep something in reserve and ensure he set a time look wise.

That put him in 13th place and 0.75 seconds off bronze, but a couple of minor errors at the start of the second run put paid to any podium aspirations as Sweden’s Andre Myhrer claimed gold.

“At the start of the day if you had said ninth I’d have said ‘yeah, it’s solid’,” said Ryding.

“I had a couple of mistakes there that were a bit costly, but I’m sure everybody did, because the Olympics always give you a bit of the yips.

<span>Dave Ryding weaves through the gates</span> <span>Credit: REUTERS </span>
Dave Ryding weaves through the gates Credit: REUTERS

“It was hard to get it all the way down, the snow was tricky.”

A veteran of three Olympics, Ryding will be 35 in four years’ time, but insists he has no desire to stop competing yet.

“Myhrer is 35 and the last winner Mario Matt was also 35 so I’ll try to keep that trend going,” said Ryding.

“I came to it really late so I’m still warming up. I’m more than motivated to keep going – obviously a little tired, it’s stressful this job, but more than motivated to keep going and keep improving.”

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