Dave Ryding backed Mikaela Shiffrin to banish her Beijing demons and believes the American’s struggles paint a valuable picture of the vagaries of slalom skiing.
Shiffrin will hope to come out swinging in speed events, starting with Friday’s super-G, having failed to finish her first two races at the Games.
A decade at the top gives Chorley’s World Cup winner Ryding a diploma in the ups and downs of the discipline that Shiffrin has dominated on the women’s side.
Despite the 26-year-old hinting at a possible early exit after her slalom disappointment, Ryding expects her class to shine through on the ‘Rock’ race piste.
“What happened with Mikaela reminds everyone how tough the sport is and little fine things that mean your race is over before it’s started,” said the Rocket, whose exploits will be broadcast live on discovery+, Eurosport and Eurosport app.
“That’s the sport we’re in. I’m sure she’ll bounce back in some way, that’s what all the greats do.
“It makes everyone aware of what a fine line we tread and how difficult slalom is.
“I have to make sure I take care of the things I can control, that’s the most important thing for me.
“It was really tough to see Mikaela on the side, but for me as a slalom skier, it shows the world just how tough it is.”
There’s even talk that Shiffrin might add the mixed team parallel event to her programme, meaning she could have four further chances to right wrongs in the tech races at the Games.
Four of Shiffrin’s 73 World Cup wins and one of her six world titles have come in super-G.
This will be the first time that the two-time Olympic champion has raced the discipline at the Olympics.
That freshness might bring out the best in Shiffrin who spoke after the slalom about overcompensating for pressure with an attacking approach.
“I have had a lot of races where I have had podiums, wins where I was skiing to somehow protect something,” said Shiffrin.
“Actually the safest way to ski is that aggressive because your whole mind and body, you are alert enough, you are ready to take on what challenges are there.”
Ryding believes that mentality is essential to get to the top but more importantly, to stay there in the way both he and Shiffrin have managed to.
“I always say the easiest season I ever had was the season where I had my first podium,” said Ryding.
“Everything was going right, I was always looking forward, never looking behind.
“That’s how sport is, once you’re there, you’re the one who’s targeted.
“Even if you’re just in the top 15, someone wants that start number because it makes a big difference.
“I’ve learned how to deal with that and hopefully I can turn it into a positive emotion on the day because when you’re attacking, you produce better skiing than when you’re defending.”
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Feature image: Alpine skier, Dave Ryding. Photo by Sam Mellish / Team GB.