From dodging sheep to the Olympic slopes: Ryding sets sights on gold

  • British skier says he will have ‘do or die’ mindset for the slalom
  • Pressure on Team GB who have yet to medal at Beijing Games

The alpine slalom skier Dave Ryding insists that Britain’s blank medal tally so far at these Winter Olympics has only made him more determined to ride to the rescue by winning gold this week.

Ryding, who clinched his first World Cup victory in Kitzbühel last month, believes the Yanqing course and artificial snow suits his style of skiing. And the 35-year-old says he is prepared to “risk it for the biscuit” – in other words go for broke – when his competition starts in the early hours of Wednesday UK time.

“I am going to have to risk more than normal, but I am in the mindset that I will have to do or die,” said Ryding, who will be competing in his fourth Winter Games. “I’ve had a ninth place at the Olympics, so I have had a decent one, and there is no point going for another ninth. I may as well try to go better – and with slalom the only way is to risk it. The winner will take it all, and I have to go for it. There is no reason why not.”

Ryding learned to ski on a dry slope in Pendle, Lancashire that was full of sheep, who would sometimes run across while he was training. On other occasions they would, in his words, “do their business when we weren’t there – a rainy night and you would get a lot of splatters, it was horrible”.

However, learning on those dry ski slopes will, he believes, help on the artificial snow he finds himself facing in China. “I don’t know how to describe it other than it is icy and slippy, but when you get your edge into it it is unbelievably aggressive and grippy,” he added.

The man known as “the Rocket” also knows that the lack of a medal in the first 10 days has put pressure on him, and other members of the British squad that are still to compete. But he insists that with Team GB’s men’s and women’s curlers still in contention, and high hopes in the two- and four-man bob, Britain’s results could yet be turbocharged in the final week.

Dave Ryding of Great Britain during the first race of Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup in Austria in January
Dave Ryding has high hopes of claiming a medal. Photograph: Klaus Pressberger/Getty Images

“Obviously we probably would have liked to medal already but these things are not just given out – there are a lot of open sports where anything can happen,” he said. “It is easy to watch and delve on the negatives but it isn’t all doom and gloom. I have seen much worse situations. As Brits we stick together and we are a hardy nation. I might get a T-shirt – keep calm and watch slalom.

“Charlotte Bankes has won three or four World Cups, is rarely off the podium, but on the day of the Olympics, one thing goes wrong and it is over. It is what it is. We do our best and everyone is human, whether it is me or you.”

There was better news for Team GB on Sunday as the men’s curling team beat China 7-6 before following that up with a 5-1 win against Denmark, while the women beat Denmark 7-2. But realistically their first shot of a medal is on Tuesday when Kirsty Muir, who finished fifth in the women’s freeski big air, is due to go off in the slopestyle, assuming she gets through qualifying on Monday.

But Ryding insists that if Team GB has no medals when he competes it will make him even more determined. “If it still happens that there are no medals when Wednesday comes I will be extra motivated,” he said.

Sign up for our Beijing 2022 briefing with all the news, views and previews for the Games.

“I will dig even deeper. I will do what I can. It is part of sport. I have been in positions where it is not going well for me and I have dug something out. Who knows? We give it our all.”

Ryding also conceded that the slalom was particularly open – with 14 people having made the podium in six World Cup races so far this season. “One of those guys who had a podium has to finish 14th, you know? It is as simple as that, but I know it is within me to win and I know I can be reassured I am in the form to do whatever on the day.”


Sean Ingle in Beijing

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
GB flagbearer Dave Ryding would ‘cut medal in half’ to honour Alain Baxter
Alpine skier has said he might cut his medal in half and give it to his ‘hero’ Alain Baxter if he makes the podium in Beijing

Sean Ingle in Beijing

03, Feb, 2022 @6:00 PM

Article image
Curler Bruce Mouat: ‘I realised it really didn’t matter what my sexuality was’
Curler Bruce Mouat is bidding for double gold at the Winter Olympics in Beijing and says the decision to come out helped shape his life and sporting career

Andy Bull

31, Jan, 2022 @8:00 AM

Article image
Britain’s mixed curlers slide into semi-finals despite defeat by Norway
Bruce Mouat and Jen Dodds were in the changing rooms when they got news of qualification

Sean Ingle in Beijing

06, Feb, 2022 @4:28 PM

Article image
Team GB women’s curlers reach final to set up shot at golden Olympic weekend
Eve Muirhead’s team joined the men’s quartet in sealing passage to the final of their competition with a dramatic win over Sweden

Sean Ingle in Beijing

18, Feb, 2022 @3:08 PM

Article image
Team GB’s Dave Ryding misses out on slalom medal but signs off with a smile
Dave Ryding ended up with crumbs in his fourth and final Olympics after the Briton’s disappointing 13th-place men’s slalom finish

Sean Ingle at Yanqing National Alpine Skiing Centre

16, Feb, 2022 @12:59 PM

Article image
Britain beats Russians at curling but ‘steely’ Eve Muirhead wants gold
Eve Muirhead, the women’s skip, guided Britain to a 10-3 win and defended her fearsome reputation, saying: ‘A split decision can cost the game so it’s important I stay focused’

Sean Ingle in Pyeongchang

14, Feb, 2018 @5:20 PM

Article image
Rutherford’s Winter Olympic dream over after bobsleigh squad misses out
Greg Rutherford’s dream of becoming the first British athlete to win a medal at a summer and winter Olympics has ended after he missed out on selection for GB’s bobsleigh squad for the Winter Olympics

Sean Ingle

20, Jan, 2022 @10:23 AM

Article image
Team GB prove a hit with China in the Winter Olympic fashion stakes
Team GB’s Ben Sherman duffle coat and Chelsea boots from the opening ceremony are proving popular

Sean Ingle in Beijing and Vincent Ni

07, Feb, 2022 @10:37 PM

Article image
Team GB’s Winter Olympic struggles go on with problems for skeleton crew
After more disappointment the ghosts of Winter Olympics pasts are starting to rattle for Britain’s campaign in Beijing

Sean Ingle in Beijing

10, Feb, 2022 @1:28 PM

Article image
Mouat and Dodds hopeful of curling semi-final place despite loss to Italy
British curling pair lost 7-5 in their latest match, against Italy, but are still hopeful of a medal push

Sean Ingle in Beijing

05, Feb, 2022 @5:52 PM