SCHLADMING EXCELS WITH RYDING IN TOP TEN
28th January 2020 | James Cove, Schladming
Last modified on February 3rd, 2020
The Rocket came 8th – his second Top Ten of the season. PlanetSKI is slopeside in Schladming at one of the highlights of the racing season.
There is no slalom race in the world quite like the Schladming Night Race.
This was the atmosphere, with heavy snow falling, before a single racer had even gone down the course.
And first down was an Austrian, Marco Schwarz, who ended up the winner of the first run, before crashing out in the second – just listen to the crowd.
The race was won by Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway over runner-up Alexis Pinturault from France and the Swiss racer, Daniel Yule.
There was support for GB’s Dave Ryding outside, ahead of the racing.
And inside too.
Dave is a very popular and well-liked figure here in Austria.
“Now I want an Austrian to win, but if Dave Ryding stood on top of the podium I would be so, so happy,” was how a guy in the crowd next to me put it.
“Against all the odds he is up there competing with the very best in the world. Plus he is the nicest and most modest guy as well, and we all love him.”
The commentator and the crowd showed their appreciation on his first run.
He put in a very solid first run and ended up 1.29 off the pace in 7th place.
His body language looked a bit dejected after the run, but he was still in with a chance of a podium place.
He put in a very similar second run and dropped just one place overall.
Dave Ryding is perhaps not racing at his best at the moment, but nevertheless a second Top Ten of the season after finishing 7th earlier in the winter in Madonna di Campiglio, is a good platform for the rest of the winter.
But Schladming is about far more than just the racing.
It is party central with an atmosphere like no other.
The first Night Race was held in 1997 and it is now a classic of the ski racing calendar.
It is up there with the Downhill races of the Hahnenkamm in Kitzbühel and the Lauberhorn in Wengen.
See here for a preview article on PlanetSKI:
There may be no Marcel Hirscher racing for Austria this year, but that hasn’t dampened the spirits of the 50,000 people here.
When the Austrian racer Marco Schwarz, who was in the lead at the time, crashed out on his second run the sharp intake of breath from tens of thousands of Austrian fans was audible.
There was then a groan, followed by complete silence – you could hear a pin drop and the disappointment was palpable.
It didn’t last long though.
The atmosphere is always amazing, and the party continues long after the race is over all along the so-called “Fan Mile”.
The stores do a roaring trade.
The bars even better.
And at the half way point after the first run, most people flood back to the bars and corporate events ahead of the second run a few hours later.
It is a no-holes-barred celebration of skiing.
Though one semi-naked female fan decided to put her safety and the safety of a racer at stake by running through the finish line.
Imagine a steep ski slope finishing in front of the home end of any football ground you care to mention as the winning goal is scored.
And then double the number of people there.
And raise the noise level.
But, unlike football, all the fans mingle together – waving their flags, drinking beer and celebrating skiing.
It is a sporting event like no other.
In Schladming Henrik Kristoffersen consolidated his lead in both the Slalom and the Overall standings.
Racing now heads to Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany with a Downhill and one Giant Slalom on the programme for next weekend.
I donned my Dave Ryding mask and headed off into the night to celebrate another Top Ten for the man they call The Rocket.
Now I had to relocate to a 2* guesthouse about 20 minutes up the mountain from Schladming on my final night as all the rooms in town were taken.
The owner could barely speak English but when I said I had been at the Slalom Night Race his eyes lit up and he repeated over and over again “Dave Ryding he ski on plastic” and “We want him Number 1”.
Dave if you are reading this, you are a legend mate.
Thanks for your contribution to a really exciting night of ski racing.
And Dave has indeed been reading PlanetSKI.
Here is what he posted on his Facebook Page:
Thanks for the kind words!