A DECADE at the top gives World Cup winner Dave Ryding a diploma in the ups and downs of alpine slalom skiing.

The Chorley star, who competes in his fourth Winter Olympics in the early hours of Wednesday morning, says it is down to fine margins between winning and losing in the most unforgiving of sports.

Ryding was speaking after watching two-time Olympic champion, Mikaela Shiffrin - who has 73 World Cup wins and six world titles - crash out of her first two events in Beijing.

But, just like the American, Ryding believes that mentality is essential to get to the top but more importantly, to stay there in the way both he and Shiffrin have managed to.

“What happened with Mikaela reminds everyone how tough the sport is and little fine things that mean your race is over before it’s started,” said the Pendle Ski Club member.

“That’s the sport we’re in. It makes everyone aware of what a fine line we tread and how difficult slalom is.

“I have to make sure I take care of the things I can control, that’s the most important thing for me.”

Ryding arrived in Beijing on the back of his historic win in Kitzbuehel where he became the first Brit to win alpine skiing World Cup gold - and he believes being on top is the easiest place to be.

“I always say the easiest season I ever had was the season where I had my first podium,” added the 35-year-old.

“Everything was going right, I was always looking forward, never looking behind.

“That’s how sport is, once you’re there, you’re the one who’s targeted.

“Even if you’re just in the top 15, someone wants that start number because it makes a big difference.

“I’ve learned how to deal with that and hopefully I can turn it into a positive emotion on the day because when you’re attacking, you produce better skiing than when you’re defending.”

Meanwhile, Amy Williams believes winning Olympic gold is like putting together a puzzle - and reckons Ryding has all the pieces he needs in Beijing.

Williams knows a thing or two about awe-inspiring, odds-defying success: in 2020, the skeleton star claimed Great Britain’s first individual Winter Olympic gold for 30 years.

So it’s no surprise that she was among those elated to watch Ryding make history on January 22, when he became the first Brit to win alpine skiing World Cup gold.

“His performance was incredible,” said Williams looking back on that World Cup win in Austria. “For him, I think it’s probably like, wow, I finally did it,” said Williams.

Ryding, who was the Team GB flag bearer with curler Eve Muirhead, is the oldest member of Team GB and gunning for his first Olympic medal at the fourth attempt.

His performance improved with every Games, from 27th place at this 2010 giant slalom debut to ninth at PyeongChang 2018 where he also finished joint fifth with the mixed team squad. Williams hopes Ryding’s latest triumph is proof he’s in better shape than ever.

Williams’ gold is one of just 32 medals ever won by British Winter Olympians. She’s eager to welcome athletes like Ryding to the exclusive club.

She added: “Every decision of every day is to get to that one performance.

“When that moment happens, you’re like, ‘I did it. I knew I could do it. I did it when it mattered on the day that it mattered.’

“The relief, being so proud to have that gold medal to bring home to your country, singing that national anthem, it’s a moment I’ll never forget.

“I just wish that upon other athletes that they can have that same feeling and bring home medals for Great Britain.”

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