The Dave Ryding Story

He’s only gone and done it. The man known as The Rocket has hit the stratosphere with GB’s first Alpine World Cup victory. PlanetSKI has followed his career and reports on how it all began.

So, Dave Ryding is a World Cup WINNER.

How good does that sound?

Remember the date that British sporting history was made.

22nd January 2022.

It’s been a long road for the 35-year-old and it started many years ago with a ski-crazy dad, Carl Ryding.

Dave Ryding was his easily-bribed son.

At the age of six, Dave, along with his younger sister Jo, was ‘encouraged’ to learn to ski at the local dry slope at Pendle in Lancashire.

Dad promised to take the kids on their first family skiing holiday to the mountains if they could get to a good basic level.

It worked.

They joined Pendle Ski Club and off the family went on what was to become an annual trip to the Alps.

Dave Ryding on an early family ski holiday to the Alps

Dave Ryding on an early family ski holiday to the Alps

Dave competed in his first race – on plastic – a couple of years later when he was eight.

A young Dave Ryding racing at Llandudno dry slope

A young Dave Ryding racing at Llandudno dry slope

Dave thrived on racing on dry slopes – a passion he shared with considerable success with sister Jo.

British Dryslope Champions Dave & Jo Ryding - photo family

British Dryslope Champions Dave & Jo Ryding

When he was 13 he was selected for the English Schools Team.

But living in a country whose mountains can be counted on one hand, it was never going to be easy to turn his hobby into a career.

He didn’t get any race training on real snow until 2001 when he was 14.

That was when he began travelling to the mountains more regularly.

Even then it was only for three or four weeks each season, and it wasn’t all hard work…

Dave Ryding on a family holiday photo family - edit

Freestyle fun on a family holiday

In stark contrast, Dave’s rival until he retired at the end of the 2018-19 season, the great Austrian, Marcel Hirscher, grew up in the Alps.

Hirscher first skied aged two in the resort where his parents ran a ski school.

Annaberg-Lungötz near Salzburg versus Bretherton near Preston.

It’s not really a fair contest, is it?

But they make them tough up north – and Dave Ryding is the epitome of northern grit.

Dave Ryding training in his garden

Northern grit – training in the garden

He has reached the very top of his chosen career thanks to hard work, determination, and a huge amount of talent.

And sacrifice – mostly by dad Carl and mum Shirley.

Carl was a market trader who re-trained as a gas engineer so he could earn more to help fund his children’s ski racing.

Carl & Shirley Ryding

Carl & Shirley Ryding

“It’s no small thing to do, especially for two kids,” Dave’s sister Jo Ryding told the BBC after his second place in Oslo on New Year’s Day 2019.

“My mum was only a hairdresser as well, so when he was re-training, she had to pick the bills up, so it’s definitely a two person effort.”

Jo says it was tough for her parents, getting up before dawn to drive them to races up and down the country.

Dave & Jo Ryding

Dave & Jo

Dave recognises the part his parents have played in his success.

“When I was younger they sacrificed a huge amount,” he once said.

“I often think, could I do the same for my kids, if I ever have kids?”

“I’m not sure the answer to that yet so obviously I owe them a huge amount of respect and gratitude.”

Carl & Shirley Ryding

Carl & Shirley supporting Dave in every way

Dave’s parents insisted he completed his education before he could consider racing full-time.

At 18, after his A levels, that’s what he did.

A year later, in 2005, he was selected for the British Alpine team.

It was the start of a remarkable rise for the boy from Bretherton.

Dave Ryding at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

At the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010

His childhood ambition had been to be ranked in the top 30 ski racers in the world.

It must have seemed a lofty aim at the time.

No more.

He achieved his ambition in the 2014-15 season and has been re-setting his goals ever since.

In January 2017, he stepped on the World Cup podium for the first time, taking second place in Kitzbühel behind Marcel Hirscher.

It was the first podium for a British alpine skier since Konrad Bartelski won downhill silver in Val Gardena in 1981.

For most of his career, in order to find the tens of thousands of pounds needed to race on the international circuit each season, Dave had to rely on financial support from sponsors and the sport’s governing body, BSS (now GB Snowsport).

The elite funding agency, UK Sport, which allocates money on the basis of Olympic medal prospects, withdrew funding for the British alpine programme in 2010.

It was restored shortly after Dave Ryding’s second place in Kitzbühel.

That stunning silver made the world sit up and notice the Brit who had learned his sport on plastic.

He was all over the news in the UK and Austria.

Newspapers after Dave Ryding's first World Cup podium

Big news

“Overnight I was recognised everywhere I went in Austria,” he told PlanetSKI in an interview at the time.

“I had many, many phone calls and was on the TV news.

“You have got to embrace it. It’s what you dream of as a kid.

“With that result, being British, you have to take all these media opportunities because it’s important for the sport.”

Now Dave Ryding is a World Cup winner.

Before January 2022, he was already GB’s most successful alpine racer in history.

What he has done now is, quite simply sensational.

Dave Ryding, PlanetSKI salutes you.

Dave Ryding

The Rocket in 2016


  • 2010 – Competes for Team GB in his first Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  Comes 27th in the slalom
  • 2013 – Gets first World Cup points, finishing 26th in Levi and wins the Europa Cup slalom title. He’s the first Briton to win a Europa Cup title.
  • 2014 – Competes at his second Olympics in Sochi, finishing 17th but has a disappointing  World Cup season, failing to pick up any points
  • 2014-15 Season – Achieves 5 top 30s in World Cup races, achieving his childhood dream by finishing the season ranked 30th in the world.
  • 2015-16 Season – A career-best result with 12th in Val d’Isere is followed by two more top 20s.  He qualifies for the World Cup finals for the first time, finishing 15th.  He ends the season ranked 22nd in the world.
  • November 2016 –  He comes 6th in the opening race of the season in Levi.  It’s his best ever result and his first World Cup top 10.
  • January 2017 – He finishes second to Marcel Hirscher in Kitzbühel.  It’s the first World Cup podium for a British skier since Konrad Bartelski’s second place in the Val Gardena downhill in 1981.
  • March 2017 – He’s 11th at the World Championships in St Moritz and becomes the first skier to win eight British slalom titles.
  • 2016-17 Season – He has several more top 10s to add to his 2nd and 6th places and ends the season ranked 8th in the world.
  • 2017-18 Season – No World Cup podium places but a couple of 4ths and several top 10s, including 9th at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
  • December 2018 – After finishing the first two races of the new season in 12th and 23rd, he’s back on form, with 4th in Madonna di Campiglio.
  • January 2019 – Wins his second World Cup silver at the New Year’s Day parallel slalom in Oslo and becomes GB’s most successful alpine ski racer in the history of World Cup racing.
  • February 2019 – Finishes 9th at the World Championships at Åre in Sweden. It’s his first top 10 at a World Championships.
  • January 2021 – He’s on the World Cup podium for a third time, winning bronze at Adelboden.
  • January 2022 – History is made.  He becomes the first Briton to win a World Cup alpine race with Gold in Kitzbühel.

Thanks to the Ryding family for sharing their photos with us.