Dave Ryding’s latest bid to become Britain’s first winner of an alpine World Cup event ended in heartbreak as he crashed out while comfortably leading the men’s slalom in Finland.
Ryding equalled Britain’s best result at a World Cup in January with second in the slalom at Kitzbuhel, and looked like going one better in Levi as he led by 0.14 seconds after the first runs.
The 30-year-old was ahead by half a second two-thirds of the way down his second run, but his hopes ended when he missed a gate after hitting a rut.
Ryding’s pace at the season-opener was nevertheless encouraging and he is aiming to compete in 11 more World Cup races this season as well as the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February.
Ryding’s error allowed Germany’s Felix Neureuther to take his 13th World Cup win with an overall time of one minute 42.83 seconds.
Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen took second place from Mattias Hargin of Sweden.
World champion Marcel Hirscher was 17th on his return after fracturing his ankle during training in August.
Ryding, who learnt to ski on a dry slope at Pendle Ski Club, has been a member of the British ski team since 2006 and has competed in two Winter Olympics, finishing 17th in the slalom at Sochi 2014.
With his second place in Kitzbuhel at the start of the year, he emulated British downhill skier Konrad Bartelski, who came second at Val Gardena, Italy in 1981.
The alpine ski World Cup was formed in 1967 and, in 50 years of racing, Ryding and Bartelski are the only British men to finish on the podium, while Gina Hathorn (1967) and Divina Galica (1968) scored top-three finishes on the women’s circuit.