Home » Dave Ryding on climate change and alpine skiing, another Winter Olympics and best season

Dave Ryding on climate change and alpine skiing, another Winter Olympics and best season

Britain’s most successful alpine skier Dave Ryding says his sport needs to “move with the times” by shifting races to higher altitudes, and did not rule out the possibility of competing indoors.

Unseasonably warm temperatures hit the World Cup ski season this year, leading to race cancellations, including three out of 13 planned slaloms, which is his speciality.

Sorry scenes of a thin white strip of artificial piste snaking down an otherwise brown or green mountain have prompted questions over whether the days of alpine skiing as we know it might be numbered.

Ryding, on the back of his most successful season at the age of 37, said it was time for the sport’s governing body, the International Ski Federation (FIS) to come up with a “Plan B” and that “this year was maybe a season too late” for change.

In an interview with BBC Sport, he said there were plenty of resorts at an altitude above 3,000m which could be used rather than scheduling races at only 800m in March.

Asked what his sport might look like for future generations, Ryding said: “I don’t think they’ll have to go indoors, but they could do. Saudi Arabia are building some almighty indoor ski slopes.

“I think it would go to higher altitudes first. I mean, we’re still skiing on glaciers in the summer, and there’s snow. So in the winter there’s going to be snow.”

Ryding, who started skiing on dry slopes, said he hoped they would not end up racing on those, though joked he would be “pretty good at it”.

Heavy rain caused the cancellation of last month’s slalom at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia (just above 800m), where temperatures were in the mid-teens, Celsius. That followed slaloms being scrapped in Val d’Isere, France in December because of rain and snow, and Bansko, Bulgaria after heavy rain in February.

Seven of the first nine alpine skiing World Cup men’s races across all disciplines were cancelled in the 2023-24 season. In total 13 men’s and eight women’s races were cancelled, with five of those replaced.

After the men’s slalom in Chamonix in February, where Swiss Daniel Yule staged an unprecedented comeback from 30th place after the first run to win the title, climatologist Mark Maslin said climate change had played a part.

The top 30 from the first run race in reverse order, meaning Yule started first on the second run before “snow started to melt quickly for the remaining racers in the sizzling 12 degrees Celsius”, according to Maslin.