Funding cuts see Lancashire ski champion Dave Ryding take to crowdfunding campaign

He is the man who achieved the impossible, against all the odds.

At 35, Lancashire skier Dave Ryding became the first British and also the oldest man ever to win a World Cup gold in the Slalom event.

His podium finish at the Hahnenkahm race in Kitzbuhel marked the most successful season ever for British skiing, with five other ski racers finishing in the top 30 rankings.

But now funding has been cut - forcing the athletes to appeal for financial help to keep training at elite level.

Dave lifts the trophy on the World Cup podium in Kitzbuehel, January 2022. Credit: PA

"It is pretty devastating", he told ITV Granada Reports. "Also for the next generation too - they have seen me win a huge race and then seen it all get taken away.

"As athletes, we are doing our job - we have six people in the World Cup top 30, but now we've been given this news in September when we start racing again in October.

"If we had even found out in April it would have given us a bit more time to try and prepare. It is a bitter pill to swallow."

On why his discipline alpine skiing is getting a funding cut, Dave says he thinks it is a "bizarre decision" from UK Sport because "so many people ski".

He said: "I learnt on Pendle Hill dry slope and have shown that we can do it in Britain. You don't have to be out abroad all the time.

Dave Ryding celebrates his historic win in the Wolrd Cup slalom at Kitzbuehel in Austria, January 2022. Credit: PA

"I trained in Lancashire until I was 20 before I went abroad to train. We have a pathway here for this to be possible, but they've made the decision, so now I have to prove them wrong."

The team now need to find around £800,000 if they want to keep training at world class level.

A GoFundMe page has already raised more than £40,000, mainly donations from ski fans across the UK.

It features a heartfelt plea from training head Paul Traynor: "Now is your chance to give British Alpine Skiing a future to make sure you still have a team to cheer for on the World Cup tour and at World Championships this season.

"We, Britain’s strongest ever Alpine team, are here, asking for your help so that we can continue to defy norms, break barriers and continue to lay the foundations for British success in Alpine Skiing for many years to come."

Dave Ryding during his second run in the Men's Slalom during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Credit: PA

UK Sport awarded skiing and snowboarding £11.9 million for this Olympic and Paralympic cycle, down from £14 million before Beijing 2022.

Some of that is ring-fenced for world class programmes, which no longer includes Dave's discipline alpine, cross-country or para-Nordic skiing.

In a statement, a spokesperson for UK Sport said: "UK Sport is aiming to become an ever greater force in winter sport, while powering a broader range of sports and champions who reflect the diversity of British society.

"We recognise GB Snowsport and some of their athletes will be disappointed by our recent investment decisions, but our investment going forward for Snowsport is now more targeted, with a focus on the Freestyle Ski and Snowboard disciplines, albeit not exclusively.”      

Victoria Gosling OBE, Chief Executive of GB Snowsport who deliver the world class programmes for the athletes said the decision was "hugely disappointing."

"What we have seen in the past four years is that what you put in in terms of investment is what you get out. With the investment we have had, iI think we have invested it particularly well because we've had the best results in British history.''

"But if you take some of that funding away, it's incredibly difficult to reach the targets we are capable of achieving."

Dave and wife Mandy welcomed baby Nina in June.

2022 has been a big year for Dave; a top of the podium finish, a wedding and now the most precious prize of all - he and his wife Mandy welcomed baby Nina in June 2022.

"It has been a really busy year", he said. "But I've got this little angel now and I have to look after her, along with our cafe, and now I need to become a funding operator on top of all that and training too.

"I'm a believer that where there is a will, there is a way. The will is there so now we have to try and find a way so we can support the younger racers, as well and pull this thing back up again."

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