Dave Ryding becomes first British skier to win gold at Alpine World Cup

The 35-year-old became the first Briton to win gold in the skiing, and now enters next month's Winter Olympics as a serious medal contender.

Dave Ryding made sporting history on Saturday as he won gold in the Alpine World Cup in Kitzbuhel, Austria.

The 35-year-old sat in sixth after his first slalom run, but a superb second attempt catapulted him to the top, 0.38 seconds clear of Norway's Lucas Braathen.

His medal success came three decades after he dipped his toes in skiing, taking on a 50-metre dry slope on a windswept hillside above Pendle in Lancashire.

Now, Ryding has propelled himself to the top of his sport and is widely considered a medal contender in next month's Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Following his record-breaking win, Ryding acknowledged the feat he had just achieved, and thanked his peers for their praise.

"It means more to me than anything when your peers and fellow competitors, whom you race against week in, week out, show their respect for what you've achieved," said Ryding.

"This has never been done before by a Brit and they know how hard it is and where I've come from. Everybody knows my story now."

It was only on Friday when Ryding was confirmed as part of Britain's Olympic skiing team, a decision that he immediately proved to be a right one.

Expectations will now inevitably rise following his win, but it's not something Ryding is shying away from.

"You win a World Cup three weeks before the Olympics and it's natural for everyone to talk," said Ryding.

"Obviously I've shown how good I am this year. The pressure and expectation has ramped up but I won't be defined by an Olympics. I've had an amazing career and to win one has taken a weight off my shoulders.

"Who knows - two or three weeks still feels like a long way away. I'll do my best to keep this old rig in tip-top shape."

Frankly, Ryding already made an impression on his last Olympics outing, with his ninth place in Pyeongchang back in 2018 being the best result by a British alpine skier for over 30 years.

Ryding also used his win to hope for a better future for British winter sports. This week, GB Snowport - the nation's current governing body - managed to name 18 skiiers and three snowboarders for next month's games.

It's a huge improvement from the winter sports scene when Ryding first started his career, and he hopes his success helps to continue the growth for future generations.

"The whole of the British winter sports scene has undergone a real revolution since my first Winter Olympics, and we've finally got to the stage where we have a strong federation.

"For me the important thing is to see the the next generation coming through. You're judged by what the next generation thinks of you, and we're certainly not seen as a laughing stock anymore.

"If I can ignite a fire - I still remember watching Alain Baxter in Salt Lake City and the buzz and something inside me that said it was awesome. If I've had that effect on another little kid somewhere, then I'm doing my job."

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