GB slalom racer Dave Ryding came 11th at the Alpine World Ski Championships after finishing the first run in 4th. He's in reflective mood and talking up the achievements of his teammates. NEW & UPDATED
It was a case of what might have been.
Dave Ryding was a real prospect for a medal and was just outside the podium positions after a storming first run.
More of the same and the smallest of slip-ups by one of those above him and he'd have made history - becoming the first British man to pick up a World Championships medal.
In the start gate at St Moritz
"I have mixed emotions to be honest. 11th is definitely a respectable result and I have to remember that I came into this season with a best World Cup result of 12th," he said.
"Saying that, I had put myself into a really good position after the first run and you never want to slip back, so I am a little disappointed.
"In the last few races I have found myself in a different situation than I was previously used to being in. I have to learn to attack the second run as much as the first run and ensure I commit just like I do in training.
"I wasn't nervous going into the second run, I knew it was anyone's race. I guess when you go into the second run in the top few places there is always a lot to lose.
"I have to take the positives from the World Championships though, and I am already looking forward to my next World Cup race in Kranjska Gora and will be looking to get back into the top 10.
Ryding was keen to talk up the achievements of the other GB skiers in St Moritz.
"It was great to be at a World Champs with my British team mates, and I think Laurie (Taylor), Alex (Tilley) and Cara (Brown) showed we have a serious future in British Alpine skiing."
See their results and news of the other GB skiers and snowboarders in action at the weekend at the end of this article.
Ryding, who learnt to ski on a dry slope, was the fifth skier onto the course in St Moritz for the first run of the slalom and he exploded out of the start gate.
Despite a mistake near the bottom, he set the fastest time of 46.96.
It was a superb, aggressive run.
But the next man out was the almost unstoppable Austrian, Marcel Hirscher, the world number one, who took the lead from the Brit by just over half a second.
By the time rest of the top skiers had come down the St Moritz course Ryding had been bumped down to 4th, just outside the medal positions.
First run standings
Ryding had put himself in the best possible position to become the first British skier in the modern era to step on the podium in a World Championships.
The best result for a British skier to date was Finlay Mickel's 11th place in the 2005 championships in Bormio, Italy.
Unfortunately, it was not to be.
Ryding did not have quite as clean a second run and when he reached the finish line with three more racers to go, he had dropped to 8th place.
He finally finished just outside the top 10 in 11th position 1.43 seconds behind the winner, Marcel Hirscher.
It was Hirscher's second gold of the championships after his victory in the Giant Slalom - he's the first man since Alberto Tomba to do the double.
His fellow Austrian Manuel Feller took the silver with Felix Neureuther of Germany in third. Neureuther made up seven places between the two runs to get onto the podium.
While Ryding was visibly disappointed as he finished his race, this result would have been considered a great success at the start of the winter.
Later, after he'd had time to reflect, he seemed to agree, posting on Twitter:
I huffed and I puffed but it wasn't to be....I learnt a lot from from today and step by step forward. 11th is still very respectable.
Reflecting - photo Dave Ryding Facebook (taken before the Worlds)
Ryding also went onto Facebook to praise his teammates whose achievements are often ignored.
"I think everyone showed Britain has some serious future in Alpine skiing, Alex Tilley, Laurie Taylor and Cara Brown.
"Obviously there was a lot of media attention on myself yesterday but I hope Laurie Taylor's result didn't go unnoticed, 33rd in his first World Champs, after coming through qualifying the day before with a PB FIS score. Hats off!"
You can read more on all the GB skiers and snowboarders in action this weekend at the end of this article.
This season has been Ryding's best by miles, topped by his silver medal at the World Cup in Kitzbühel last month, the best result by a British skier in more than 35 years.
Ryding has also finished 4th and 6th this season and went into the World Championships ranked 5th in the world.
Ryding is riding high
PlanetSKI's chief reporter Jane Peel interviewed Dave Ryding ahead of the Worlds. Here's another chance to see what he had to say, starting with his chances in St Moritz.
"It's a piste that's not as challenging at Kitzbühel so it will be very, very tight racing," he says. "It's one of those pistes where risk is rewarded. We'll see."
Ryding says 'we'll see' quite a lot. He is determined to keep his feet on the ground and focus on his future skiing rather than his past results.
Tricky, since everyone, including me, wants to ask him about that silver medal.
So, I do.
What was like to be in the lead after the first run?
"I thought 'I am in at the deep end here'," he says.
"It was just a case of trying to keep my composure for the second run. No one really remembers the leader of the first run, only the final result.
"I was trying to keep my heart rate down between the runs. I had to take myself back to races where I was leading before, though this was a bit different as it was a World Cup race.
"I knew I had a bit of a buffer on 3rd and 4th place and I knew I had to attack the course.
"I was happy with the way I skied. It would have taken a superhuman effort to beat (Marcel) Hirscher."
One the Kitzbühel podium
Ryding's photo montage from Kitzbühel
The podium thrust Ryding into the public and media spotlight.
"Austria is skiing mad anyway," he says, "so to get a podium in Kitzbühelis surreal. Overnight I was recognised everywhere I went in Austria.
"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.
Making the national press
"Hopefully it will put skiing back into people's minds again.
"Hopefully, it's good for the sport, not just me. The sport needs the coverage."
Ryding says he managed to turn his phone off for a few hours and take a nap, but there was little time for rest since his next race was just 48 hours after Kitzbühel, in Schladming.
At the Schladming bib draw
Ryding finished 10th in Schladming, which would have felt like a great achievement had it not been for that podium finish.
"I was still obviously feeling the effects of Sunday at Kitzbühel, but I had to reassess," he says.
"This season I was only aiming for one Top 10 and consistently being in the Top 15 so I went back that goal. I thought: ski as well as you can and take the result you get."
A week later and Ryding was back in action at the Stockholm World Cup - a city centre evening parallel slalom with the skiers going head to head.
Only 16 men were invited - the top racers on the tour. It was the first time Ryding had competed in a World Cup parallel slalom.
As if to prove his silver medal was no fluke, Ryding was agonisingly close to another podium, missing the bronze by just 0.06 seconds, and finishing fourth.
"It's the kind of event where you need to have a bit of luck because you need to have a good draw," Ryding says.
"It's a really pressured situation - head to head with another guy with 18 gates. It's a real buzz but it's hectic.
"Being brought up on dry slopes, we did a lot of these races in a similar format. You get used to it. It wasn't that alien to me.
"My first two rounds I thought I did some good skiing and didn't make mistakes, but there's not much rest between runs and I started to get a bit fatigued in the semi-final against Alexis (Pinturault) and I made a few mistakes. These things happen."
Ryding was then just pipped by the Swede Mattias Hargin in the race to determine the third and fourth places.
"I would loved to have made third but if you had offered me fourth before the night I would have said 'yeah'.
"But when there are only four left, you don't want to be the fourth guy!"
After Stockholm on 31st January, Ryding was able to take some time out.
He spent a few days back at home in Lancashire before heading to Pyhrn-Priel, the Austrian resort that is one of his main sponsors, to resume his on-snow training ahead of the World Championships in St Moritz.
World Championships slalom course
THE REST OF THE RESULTS AND UPCOMING ACTION
Delancey British Alpine Team
In addition to Dave Ryding, three members of the team were at St Moritz for the World Championships.
On Thursday Alex Tilley finished 30th in the GS after putting down two solid runs. She also finished in very creditable 25th place in Saturday's Slalom.
Cara Brown, who has only recently come back from a knee injury, competed in the GS after successfully going through a qualification round. She finished in 65th place.
Rising star Laurie Taylor in his first World Championships, put in a brilliant performance. He qualified in an excellent 17th place for the Men's GS main race which took place on Friday morning. He finished that race in the top half placing 40th out of 88 finishers.
Taylor went on to qualify for Sunday's main men's Slalom race where he joined Dave Ryding in the starting gate. He successfully completed his first run in 38th place and made up some more time in his second run to finish 33rd overall out of 82 finishers.
Away from the World Championships, Charlie Raposo and Nick Moynihan are competing in the Oberjoch Europa Cup in the GS and Slalom.
GB Park and Pipe
Snowboarder Billy Morgan was in Los Angeles for the Air + Style event which was hampered by wet conditions. In what was a tough day in the office for Morgan, he put down a back triple on his first run but just missed the landing. He couldn't quite nail his second run after getting hooked on take off, so missed out on finals.
At the Big Air Europa Cup in Goetschen, GB Park and Pipe Pathway athletes Gabriel Adams finished in 30th and highest Brit, with Ethan Smith just behind him in 32nd and Glen Ironside in 39th.
Billy Morgan - photo Matt Georges
British Ski and Snowboard Cross
At the World Junior Snowboard Cross Championships in Klinovec, Czech, Maisie Potter clocked the best result for Great Britain, finishing 18th overall in the ladies individual race, with Anna Richardson 27th. For the men, Bradley Gaulter finished in 56th with Douglas Green in 58th position.
Behind them were teammates Brandon Cain in 64th and Michael Searing in 65th. In the team event, the British men couldn't make it past the eight final, and the women were beaten by two French teams in the quarter-final.
The British Cross Country Elite Squad were at the Otepaa World Cup this weekend. Andrew Young finished in an impressive 12th in the Men's Sprint Freestyle Finals whilst in the ladies', team mate Annika Taylor placed 39th in the Sprint Freestyle and52nd in the 10km Classic.
This week sees the start of the next Cross Country World Championships in Lahti, Finland with Andrew Young, Andrew Musgrave, Callum Smith, James Clugnet, Annika Taylor and Fern Cates in action for British Nordic.
Wednesday is the Ladies 5km Classic and the Men's 10km Classic. Thursday is the Men's and Ladies Sprint races.