Dave Ryding won the Kitzbühel men’s slalom on Saturday, becoming the first British skier to win a gold medal in the 55-year history of the Alpine World Cup.
The 35-year-old was sixth after his first run but earned a remarkable victory with a final run of 49.86sec, becoming the oldest winner of a men’s World Cup slalom. Norway’s Lucas Braathen finished 0.38sec behind, with his compatriot Henrik Kristoffersen third.
Ryding kissed the snow after he crossed the finish linet, having won the biggest slalom event on the men’s circuit. “There’s life in the old dog yet,” he told Eurosport. “I’m 35 now but I never stopped believing, I never stopped trying.”
“I always believed I could do it, I always thought I can do this but my races were getting less and less and doubt is always there.
“My team never stopped believing, they kept pushing me. More than I would like sometimes. My fiancee always supports me, my family is always there and I’m not the easiest to deal with all of the time. I hope they are popping a prosecco at home.”
Ryding’s historic victory comes the day after he was selected to represent Team GB at his fourth Winter Olympics, which begins in Beijing on 4 February. Ryding, who finished ninth in the slalom at the 2018 Games, had managed three previous World Cup podium finishes – at Kitzbühel in 2017, in Adelboden last January and in the parallel slalom in Oslo three years ago.
The Lancastrian’s tremendous second leg punished those starting before him who had made errors or failed to finish. Italy’s 2010 Olympic champion, Giuliano Razzoli, straddled a gate near the finish, while Norway’s Sebastian Foss-Solevaag, France’s Clement Noel and Italian Alex Vinatzer also made mistakes.
“I had so much emotion when I finished,” said Ryding. “It means the world just to hear some Brits and people cheering,” he said. “I don’t have a home race but there’s always some Brits in the Alps because we love skiing. We love to party as well.”