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Skier Ryding into Sochi late but in confident mood
11:20am Saturday 8th February 2014 in Sport
DESPITE only coming around once every four years and being the pinnacle of his career, Dave Ryding will be joining the Olympic party late.
The Pendle star, the only male member of the British alpine ski squad, does not compete until the final weekend of the Games.
Ryding finished 27th in Vancouver four years ago and will be aiming to improve on that showing when he begins his slalom campaign on Saturday, February 22.
But before then it’s the bread and butter of the Europa Cup for the 27-year-old with races in Germany and Bulgaria serving as prepartation for the Games.
In 2013 he became the first Brit to win the title – the second tier of European skiing – and he will be bidding to retain that honour despite making a number of appearances at World Cup level.
The latest of those was the night race in Schladming last month where Ryding believed he turned a corner in his season.
The Colne ace has at times struggled for form this season but he crossed the line in 42nd spot in Austria, 12 places and only seven tenths of a second off getting a second run under the lights.
And Ryding, who will be the last member of Team GB to arrive in Sochi, believes continuing to compete rather than waiting in Russian hotel rooms, will boost his chances of a top-20 finish come raceday.
He said: “There was too much waiting around and the Olympics is such a pressured and intense environment to be in.
“It will be better in Sochi because I will probably stay at my own base until about five days beforehand. I think that flexibility will help my performance.
“Because you needed to acclimatise I was away for a long-time before Vancouver and slalom is also one of the last events at the Games,” he added.
“There aren’t many training pistes at the Olympics, so I’ll keep competing as long as I can – I think that will work better for me.”
Ryding currently sits joint second in his bid to reclaim his Europa Cup slalom title – 23 points behind Swiss leader Daniel Yule.