Dave Ryding’s continued World Cup slalom success is “debunking the myth” that Great Britain cannot compete in traditional alpine disciplines.
That is according to the British Ski and Snowboard Association performance director Dan Hunt.
Having won silver in Kitzbuhel in January, Chorley ace Ryding missed out on becoming the nation’s first alpine World Cup gold medallist in history when he crashed out midway down his second run in Finland on Sunday, when leading by more than half-a-second.
But Ryding, along with cross-country skier Andrew Musgrave, have impressed enough to head to February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang as genuine medal contenders in sports whose podiums have for so long been considered the sole preserve of snow-bound rivals.
Hunt said: “What Dave and Muzzy are doing is debunking the myth that British athletes can’t be successful in snow sports or at the Winter Olympics.
“Dave showed in Levi that he was far and away the best skier on the hill, that his summer training has gone well and he has taken another step up this year.
“They are both dispelling myths as they go along – that you’ve got to start skiing at the age of three, that you’ve got to be born in the Alps. And in delivering what they are delivering, they are exposing excuses for prior failures.”
Having transformed the fortunes of the women’s endurance squad, Hunt left his role as a coach at British Cycling last year, taking over at BSS with the ambitious goal of turning Britain into one of the top five Winter Olympic nations by 2030.
Hunt now says the campaign is ahead of schedule, bolstered by a funding increase of £212,000 from UK Sport in June this year, which has further increased the chances of Ryding and Musgrave making history in Pyeongchang.
Hunt added: “Dave has a strong support package around him now, while BSS has been able to put an additional two cross-country coaches into the programme as well, which is having a direct impact on performances.
“One of the bigger shocks I had last year was the reaction to Dave’s silver medal in Kitzbuhel in terms of social media response and general interest.
“It underlined that we are still a great nation of skiers –so many of our generations grew up with Ski Sunday and so the impact of this success has been huge.”