Watch out for a tall British skiing ace training on the local slopes this winter! Dave Ryding, 6 feet tall in a helmet, liked his time here in Obergurgl-Hochgurgl so much last year that he’s coming back to train here again in the coming winter.
“There are many reasons why Obergurgl is the ideal location for me to train” he says. “As everyone knows, the slopes are high which means great snow which lasts longer. They’re really into ski racing here. And everyone is so friendly and welcoming which is another reason why the area is such a popular place to ski with British clients.
“Also it’s useful to have Sölden just down the road with its glacier as an option although I prefer to stick to the local slopes here in Obergurgl and Hochgurgl.”
Says Ryding, 31: “I’m a one-trick pony – just specialising in slalom, and training in my own little bubble! It’s more difficult for a British ski racer being in the Alps than Austrian or Swiss racers who are training in their own countries.”
Obergurgl’s impressive snow record wouldn’t have been that important to him in his early racing years – he started competing on dry ski slopes at the age of eight and didn’t ski on snow till he was 12. He continued racing on dry slopes until he was 21.
Ryding gained his first World Cup podium, and a British record in the Hahnenkamm slalom on the Ganslernhang at Kitzbühel: after holding the lead after the first run, he finished in second place, behind Austrian Marcel Hirscher. In doing so, Ryding became only the second British man to achieve a World Cup alpine podium. It was Britain’s best alpine World Cup result after Konrad Bartelski’s second place in the Val Gardena downhill in 1981.
Says Bartelski: “I just love watching the telly when Dave Ryding is racing. He’s such a great technician and the ultimate master of consistency. And being so reliable in the discipline of slalom, which is more akin to dodging machine gun bullets on a speeding treadmill, is his truly remarkable forte.
“Slalom is such a tough sport, each turn defined by minute margins separating success from complete failure – yet when Dave is on course, my heart does not race, my pulse does not go up. He somehow always look in total control. And the most exciting thing is that “The Rocket’s” career is still in ascendancy; there is still more to come….this Lancashire man never stops learning.
“Who said that the Brits cannot ski race?”
By Arnie Wilson