From Pendle to Pyeongchang, Dave Ryding became the first British alpine skier to crack an Olympic top 10 in 30 years, then immediately set his sights on greater glory.
Ryding, who started skiing on a 50m dry slope on a windswept east Lancashire hillside, finished exactly half a second off bronze after two gutsy runs at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre.
In doing so, the 31-year-old recorded the best British alpine result since Martin Bell’s surprise eighth-place finish in the men’s downhill in Calgary in 1988.
Ryding improved four places on his second run, aided by the shock exits of Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, who held a 0.21 seconds lead at the halfway stage, and favourite Marcel Hirscher, looking for his third gold medal of the Games, who skied out early.
And Ryding said he would take plenty of confidence from the veteran status of both the winner, Andre Myhrer of Sweden, and the man he succeeded as Olympic champion, Switzerland’s Mario Matt.
“Myhre is 35 and the last winner was also 35 – at the next Olympics I’ll also be 35 so I will try to keep that trend going.
“I came to it really late so I’m still warming up. I’m more than motivated to keep going and keep improving.
“At the start of the day I’d have probably taken ninth. I feel I could have done more but I think a lot of other people do as well. At the end of the day ninth’s what I got and I’ll accept that and move forward.”
Ryding appeared to concede that he may have been unduly cautious on his first run, which placed him 13th, 1.16 seconds off the bronze medal position.
Determined to go for broke, Ryding made a small mistake at the top of the second run which would actually make it slower than his first.
And it soon became clear how much that minor error might have cost him, as Switzerland’s Ramon Zenhaeusern, who started the day in ninth place, only four places ahead of Ryding, jumped up to take the silver medal ahead of Austria’s Michael Matt, brother of the now-retired Mario.
“I wasn’t that far behind Zenhaeusern and I knew it was within my capabilities to do that but I made a mistake on the first hairpin and those things are costly,” added Ryding, who is also set to compete in Saturday’s team event.
“I’ve have a podium in World Cup and there’s no reason I can’t do it again. I believe I’ve got it in me, I’ve just got to make sure I leave it out there all the time.”
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