Ski Racing and the Youth of Today

Monday:

DL: “I watched the race from Kitzbühel on youtube last night mate.”

Me: “Oh really?”

DL: “Yeah especially because we got the silver.”

Me: “Huh?”

DL: “Yeah we came second… Dave Ryding? In the slalom.”

Me: “Whaaaaaat?”

I really do love skiing. I’ve been skiing (for at least a day or two) every winter since 2003, with the exception of the wilderness years of 2005 and 2006. In 2005 I instead decided to spend a week with Wiseman et al in Toronto for my friend Alyn’s wedding, and in 2006 I was saving up for an epic trip down under to see England lose 5-0 in the Ashes of 2006-7, although obviously I didn’t know the result at that point. It might have somewhat demotivated my saving effort.

This winter, it seems, is going to be another one sans-skiing. However, I am keeping the dream alive by wearing my ski socks all through the winter, and falling over periodically. Be reassured that I do have more than one pair of socks, and switch between them occasionally.

I also watch the ski racing on Eurosport, every weekend if I can. However, not since the beginning of January, as the Finance Director doesn’t appear to have a Eurosport subscription, more’s the pity. I wonder if she realises how much coverage of international handball she’s missing out on.

And so it came to pass that the best result Great Britain has recorded in the Alpine Skiing World Cup since Nineteen Canteen… passed me by. I might have missed it altogether, had my youthful spiky-haired colleague DL not pointed it out.

Dave Ryding, what a legend. What a result. On a crazily-difficult piste which saw many of the top names crash out, he finished first in the initial run, and would have come first overall if Marcel Hirscher hadn’t produced one of his now-customary unbelievable second-run charges to take the spoils for Austria.

Hirscher is an incredible athlete. One of the all-time greats, mesmerising to watch, he’s my favourite skier to watch in slalom and giant-slalom.

It’s understandable that countries like Austria, Norway, Switzerland and the USA produce great skiers. Not to mention France, Italy and Canada. They have great mountains and ski resorts on their doorstep. The ski federations and training programmes of these nations are strong and well-resourced. Not so Britain’s.

Today:

DL: “Hey mate, did you see we got a gold yesterday?”
Me: “Whaaaat?!”
DL: “Yeah, in the disability skiing”

It’s true. GB’s Millie Knight won gold in the downhill. She’s 18 years old, and visually impaired. Racing the downhill while visually impaired, can you imagine anything more terrifying?

Me: “British skiing are having a real purple patch at the minute!”
DL nodded and smiled.
Me: “Do you know what I mean by that?” I had used the phrase in a conversation with my youthful goateed boss not long before, to general bemusement.
DL: “No.”

What are they teaching the kids at school these days?

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