Dave Ryding is the undisputed ‘GOAT of the North’ and should serve as an inspiration to the next generation of burgeoning British snowsport talent, reckons former Olympic snowboard star Aimee Fuller.
Fuller, who represented Team GB at Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018, was speaking at Ryding’s local Ski Slope in Pendle on Wednesday morning to support the alpine ace’s bid for Beijing glory and celebrate National Lottery players' key role in funding British athletes.
Ryding finished 13th in the slalom event as the whole of Lancashire proudly watched on, with the 35-year-old – who became the first British alpine skier to win World Cup gold in Kitzbuhel last month - once again showcasing his long-term passion for competing for Team GB, representing the region and cementing his status as a true local legend.
And speaking to celebrate the millions of pounds raised by National Lottery players for elite and grassroots community sport, Fuller couldn’t have been more enthused about the Pride of Pendle’s trailblazing exploits in helping capture the imagination of aspiring skiers back home.
Fuller, 30, said: “I love Dave Ryding – I call him the GOAT of the North!
“I think what he’s achieved is incredible. Alpine skiing is so tough, there’s such fine margins and he really is one of the best in the world.
“I think one of the most incredible things about Dave is seeing how he’s progressed with age - but his performance has only got better and better. The fact he’s achieved a World Cup victory at the age of 35 really is something special.
“He’s so humble and he’s made huge waves in British skiing – it’s unbelievable when you look at his career what he’s achieved. Coming from a dry slope in Pendle to an Olympian is mad.
“What’s interesting about this team is that it’s quite a young team, bar Dave! We have the likes of Kirsty Muir – she’s only 17 at her first Games and at the next Games, she’ll be a medal contender.
“If you look at grassroots in snowboarding, we have so much young talent coming through looking forward to 2026, and it’s so exciting thinking of the next Games and what we can do.
“The athletes couldn’t do it without The National Lottery. It’s created the infrastructure for athletes to go out and perform – from physio to the coaches to the logistics. There’s so much more behind an athlete than just the sport.
“With the support of National Lottery players, we’re seeing grassroots sports funded, making the sport more accessible at that level. The bigger the triangle at the bottom, the more success we’ll see at the top.
“As a former athlete, I was so grateful for that support – it enabled vital components of my, and any, athletes’ career.”
National Lottery funding helps Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes achieve their dreams of representing the nation at the Olympics and Paralympics, providing essential community sports facilities all across the UK and getting more people active.
And people may not realise that Team GB and ParalympicsGB winter athletes come from a wide range of backgrounds, starting their journey at local facilities, many of which are National Lottery-funded.
Ryding’s journey followed precisely that path, first coming into the sport as a six-year-old and starting lessons at Pendle Ski Club after being encouraged by his dad Carl.
And one young skier inspired by Ryding’s journey is Charlotte Holmes, who is an up-and-coming GB Snowsport Academy athlete, also honing her craft at Pendle.
Holmes, 16, said: “The atmosphere down here this morning is electric, not just because of the Olympics, but specifically for Dave – it’s amazing how far he’s come from a little lad at Pendle Ski Slope to an Olympian and we’re all so proud of him.
“As a person, he’s so friendly and comes up here quite regularly to inspire the kids and talk to us. And as a skier, he’s even better!
“He’s spent so much time on the indoor slopes while other guys have grown up on mountains and so to finish top 15 at an Olympics is amazing.
“It’s inspiring to see someone so close to us at Pendle doing so well – it makes it more real for us. Dave has proved that you can be one the best in the world with hard work.”
When Team GB and ParalympicsGB are in action, the nation often sees a huge uplift in people coming to try out skiing and everyone would love to see more.
And with the Winter Olympics in full swing, there’s no reason why young athletes out there shouldn’t give snowsports a go.
Lindsey Allen, Pendle Race Coach, is not surprised by the fervent support Ryding has drummed up in his local area and also speaking from Pendle Ski Slope, added: “It’s been fantastic this morning. We’ve had such a good turnout and it was great to see Dave on the big screen.
“When you think of someone coming from a small dry slope like ours in Pendle to competing on the world stage – it’s quite incredible. It’s almost surreal. Dave has done it against the odds, which makes his achievements all the more impressive.
“The kids relate to him so well because he started here and he is a massive inspiration. He’s one of the most down to earth, humble people you meet – he’s just an ordinary person and has done so, so well.
“We saw a rise in participation after 2018 - I think a lot of people don’t realise the amount of facilities we have in this country – there’s so many opportunities available.
“Having National Lottery funding is a really positive step in the right direction because for many years, we didn’t have a huge amount of funding.
“It’s made a big difference – it’s giving people the opportunity to believe in their potential and will help lead to more success in the future.”
National Lottery players are one of the biggest supporters of Team GB and ParalympicsGB winter athletes and raise more than £30 million each week for good causes including grassroots and elite sport. Discover the positive impact playing The National Lottery has at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtag: #TNLAthletes