The FIS World Cup tour had a festive feeling to it after stopping off in Lapland Levi, Finland for the first Slalom races of the season.

Britain’s Dave Ryding had unfinished business with the Levi course after leading the first run last year, only to crash out towards the end of his second run challenge. The Rocket has a new ski set up this season after switching from Fischer to Dynastar in the summer.

Need a new ski setup yourself? Our 2019 Ski test is now live on our website!

A dramatic drop of temperature overnight in Levi, Finland had caused the artificial snow on the course to turn into boilerplate ice. This was tough for the athletes who had been training on softer snow all week.

The first run was set by Norwegian coach Stefan Kornberger, who managed to set an incredibly tough pattern of turns that really tested the world’s best. After the first run, surprise surprise, it was last years overall World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher who was leading the race. However, he was only narrowly 0.07 seconds in front of Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen, with young Frenchman Clement Noel +0.38 seconds behind in third.

As for Ryding, he had a solid first run from bib 15, he managed to finish +1.05 seconds behind Hirscher, which put him into ninth place. There was certainly an incentive for a second run attack by the man from Pendle.

Vanessa Fry Photography

Ryding wasn’t the only racer flying the flag for Great Britain. Young Laurie Taylor was bib 36 and had some great intermediate split times on the majority of the course. A huge recovery towards the end of the steep section of the course lost him time, which unfortunately meant he didn’t qualify for the second run. Taylor finished +3.19 seconds off Hirscher and placed 49th on the first run. The top section of the course saw real promise for things to come this season for the British number two.

Much like the first run, the tight pattern of gates caught out some of the best skiers in the world. Top French skiers Noel and Victor Muffat-Jeandet both had to hike up the course after making huge mistakes before the finish line.

The Rocket’s second run saw him attack the flat section with great intent but he struggled on the transition from steep to flat towards the bottom of the course. This meant he lost momentum going into the finish line and after the race placed 12th. A top 15 finish is still a fantastic result but Ryding himself has set the bar very high in recent years and would’ve hoped for a higher finishing position. 

Ryding took to Facebook after the Slalom race in Levi: “Well that was a full on fight today! 12th place... its a start and I showed some glimpses of some good stuff.

“It was nice to kick off racing life back with Dynastar and Lange! In at the deep end for sure with those conditions but I made it to the line.. all be it resembling doggy paddle for the last split. Always learning!”

Marcel Hirscher | Men's Slalom | Levi | 1st place

  

The Hirscher-Kristoffersen shootout didn’t disappoint. The two skiers were in a league of their own and showed textbook slalom skiing. While other racers struggled with the tight turns, both Hirscher and Kristoffersen breezed through with ease. Hirscher won the race by a tight 0.09 seconds over Kristoffersen in the end, with Sweden’s Andre Mhyrer +1.41 seconds behind in third. It’s going to be a fascinating battle between Hirscher and Kristoffersen on the World Cup this season.

Next up for team British Ski and Snowboard is the Giant Slalom and Slalom races in Killington, USA on the 24-25 November. Britain’s Alex Tilley is expected to race in both events.

On the freestyle side, the first World Cup Slopestyle of the season will be held in Stubai, Austria on the 24th November. Watch out for a fair few of the British Park & Pipe crew competing in Austria.

For updates on the British Ski and Snowboard team this winter follow our Racing and Riding news section.