(Reuters) – Dave Ryding was the talk of Kitzbuehel on Sunday after he finished second in one of the biggest slaloms of the Alpine ski season to match Britain’s best ever World Cup result.
With his first career podium, the 30-year-old who learned to ski on a dry slope in north-west England matched compatriot Konrad Bartelski’s astonishing second place in a Val Gardena downhill in 1981.
Although it was a British sporting pioneer Arnold Lunn who is today credited with having invented the modern slalom race in 1922, none of his compatriots have ever won on the World Cup circuit in 50 years of trying.
Bartelski and Ryding are the only men to have stood on the podium since the first World Cup season in 1967.
“It is an insane feeling. After the first run I knew I had skied it clean, but couldn’t believe it when I crossed the finish line,” said Ryding, who was fastest on the opening run down the famed Hahnenkamm in the Austrian resort.
“Between the runs I tried to keep my heart rate down and tried to forget I would be the last man down on the second run.After the second run I just thought to myself ‘I’ve done it’.
“Hirscher skied so well, so coming second almost felt like a victory.”
Austrian Marcel Hirscher, the five-time World Cup overall champion skiing on home snow, won the race by 0.76 seconds in front of thousands of fans after ending the first leg only ninth.
The win was Hirscher’s 20th in slalom.
But it was Ryding who stole the show with a result even he had never dreamed of despite finishing sixth and seventh already this season. He now has six top 15 finishes.
Britain’s reputation in Alpine skiing when Bartelski was competing was that of also-rans, with one French commentator famously exclaiming when the skier finished second: “This is not possible, he’s English.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Ian Chadband)