Dave Ryding is having his best-ever racing season with a flurry top 10 finishes. We thought it was time we got an insight into the high-speed world of Britains NO.1 slalom skier
Master your technique
Going fast is all about getting the basics right. You need to be standing low on your skis, keeping your upper body stable – don’t rotate your hips! You also need to have a strong outside leg to get maximum pressure through the turn and absorb the pressure. Don’t overthink it; your stance should feel natural with your legs neither too close together nor too far apart, as they would be when standing.
Know that your equipment matters
A well-fitting pair of boots is essential. Too tight and you’ll be in pain. Too loose and your foot will move around
like it’s in a wellie, which isn’t going to give you the control you need to ski fast. If you have a comfortable, snug-fitting boot you’ll ski so much better. With skis, having sharp edges is absolutely paramount, especially if you’re racing – it can be like an ice rink out there! Lastly, always wear a helmet; if you’re skiing fast, it’s 100% necessary. No excuses!
Employ mental strength
This is especially important for racers. You need to be mentally strong enough to fly down the course in front of you
to the best of your ability, but also have the confidence to take some risks. When I first started skiing on the World Cup circuit I didn’t always believe in myself enough. But racing a lot on the dry slopes of Britain when I was younger taught me a huge amount about dealing with those competitive situations.
Dave Ryding proving he is made of tough stuff | British Ski & Snowboard Championships 2015
My advice to anyone struggling with committing to speed would be to remember that it’s all in the name of fun, and
don’t be scared to make mistakes. After all, snow can be nice and soft to fall on!
Train the right way
I spend about 200 days a year skiing. For my body to withstand that level of on-snow training, and the races themselves, I have to do a lot of gym work and interval training off the mountain as well. That off-slope work is important for any skier, pro or not. You need to keep your body healthy, have strong muscles, support your joints and support your back. Without proper training, you’re much more likely to hurt yourself.
Do some proper prepping
For us slalom skiers, a proper course inspection before the race is key. You get 45 minutes to look at the course and making the most of that is crucial for me. I want to be able to visualise the whole course; know where I need to turn, where the gates are and where the terrain changes. That way I can commit more to my line, know when to expect the rollers and trust where I’m going to go.