From Lancashire to Beijing

Question: can you name a British Alpine skier, past or present, that isn’t called Dave?
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Maybe your knowledge stretches to Chemmy Alcott or Alain Baxter – or even to Alex Tilley, Charlie Guest and Billy Major, who were also on the plane to Beijing – but we suspect the answer is a resounding no.
But Dave Ryding? Surely you’ve heard of him by now.
On paper, a 13th place finish at an Olympic Games isn’t something to get too excited about. But given the ‘Rocket’ learnt his trade on a mini dry slope, first skied on snow aged 12 and was still competing on dry slopes into his 20s, this is still cause for a smile or two.
All the nationalities that finished ahead of Ryding – France, Austria, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria and Russia – all hail from countries with famous ski resorts. Lancashire, where Ryding grew up, boasts a highest peak of 628 metres – the towering and imposing Green Hill.

'I wasn't on my A-game - it's a shame' - GB's Ryding frustrated with Beijing performance

It says a lot about Ryding’s meteoric rise that we are disappointed with his failure to reach the podium. In many ways he is victim of his own success, having announced himself to the nation with his historic victory in Kitzbuhel last month.
“We don’t have the mountains on our doorstep. We always have to go abroad to train and what Dave has done has just made it possible,” said Eurosport expert Emma Carrick-Anderson.
“I think there are so many kids now in the UK that have got that little thing in the back of their mind – ‘I can do this’.”
Those thoughts from Carrick-Anderson echo what skiing royalty Mikaela Shiffrin told Eurosport after his World Cup win in January.
“I think there are so many kids now in the UK that have got that little thing in the back of their mind – ‘I can do this’,” said Shiffrin.
“I’m astounded and impressed by Dave’s skiing, but also not surprised.”

‘Anything is possible!’ – Carrick-Anderson heaps praise on GB's ‘amazing’ Ryding

'Massive, massive upset!'

“Wow! What a surprise, what a massive, massive upset,” said Eurosport’s disbelieving Bob Bollard from the commentary booth.
And it was a massive upset. European minnows Slovakia toppled the mighty United States in the men’s ice hockey quarter-finals in a dramatic match that took its place in Winter Games history.
Trailing 2-1 with less than a minute on the clock, Slovakian captain Marek Hrivic struck to force overtime. But the drama was not over.
After a goalless extra period, an incredibly tense shootout saw Slovakia goaltender Patrik Rybar repeatedly repel the Americans. It created the platform for Peter Cehlarik to score the only goal of the shootout and send the Europeans into the last four.

‘A massive, massive upset!’ – Slovakia knock USA out in huge ice hockey shock


As the famous saying goes: “if at first you don’t succeed, hobble back up the mountain, then slide back down on your face.”
Or something like that.

‘Trying everything!’ - Ho hikes back up slope after slip, crashes again to slide over finish line

Plus the Germans are continuing to sass us off – so please, Team GB, do something soon:


  • Alpine skiing – Women's combined (Downhill 2:30 GMT, Slalom 6:00 GMT)
It's been a tough Beijing 2022 for Mikaela Shiffrin so far, failing to finish either of the technical events, but salvation for the American skiing superstar may come in the form of the women's combined.
The silver medallist four years ago in Pyeongchang, Shiffrin took the world title in the discipline last year, though that was contested over a twistier Super-G and slalom combination.
An encouraging performance in the downhill earlier this week nonetheless suggests the 26-year-old should rather fancy her chances, and Shiffrin had the fastest run in training on Wednesday - though the American will face stiff competition from defending champion Michelle Gisin, Switzerland’s Wendy Holdener and the smooth cross-sport stylings of Ester Ledecka.
  • Women’s Singles Free Skate (From 10:00 GMT)
Yes, Kamila Valieva will be back on the ice in Beijing, assuming the doping investigation into the Russian has not concluded before competition starts.
Despite an early stumble, the 15-year-old produced the standout performance of short program phase to lead all competitors ahead of the deciding free skate.
It is worth remembering that if Valieva medals, the IOC has decided that no medal ceremony should be held while the ROC skater is the subject of an ongoing investigation - the teenager’s teammates Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova are also well-placed, along with Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto and Waba Higuchi.
  • Ice hockey women’s gold medal game - USA vs Canada (4.10am GMT)
This one is massive. Five of the last six previous Olympic women’s ice hockey gold medal matches have been contested between the noisy North American neighbours, including the last in Pyeongchang, which was decided in a shootout.
Will free-scoring Canada avenge that defeat? They enter as favourites after a dominant campaign, beating the Americans in the group stage, but USA goaltender Alex Cavallini has been in supreme form.


And still Team GB wait. Another day came and went without a British medal, Dave Ryding failing to take off and leaving hopes rather resting on British efforts at the Ice Cube.
Both Britain’s men and women are in curling action on Thursday, with Bruce Mouat’s in-form male quartet already assured of their place in a semi-final, which begins at 12.05 GMT. Their opponents will be decided by the final round robin encounters, with Mouat’s rink finishing up against Canada from 01:05 GMT - which should be a useful tune-up ahead of a chance to guarantee Britain’s first medal of Beijing 2022.
Eve Muirhead’s rink (4-4) are right up against it after defeat to China, and need an improbable set of results to go their way to progress to the last four. The permutations are complex, but victory over the ROC (06.05 GMT) is a must though.
Another potential British medal could come in the freestyle skiing halfpipe. Sister Izzy was forced to pull out as she continues to recover from a serious injury but Zoe Atkin is a top talent, and begins qualifying from 01.30 GMT, while the multi-talented Gus Kenworthy, who switched allegiance to Great Britain from the USA in 2019 and is also an actor and internet personality, goes in the male equivalent event from 04.30 GMT.
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