THE ARMY ALPINE DOWNHILL CHAMPIONSHIPS
January again saw the flurry of activity around Services Winter Sports that culminates in the Inter-Services Championships in Meribel at the start of February.
The Army started with it’s Snowboarding Championships back in December but it was the Telemark Championships in Rauris, Austria which got the New Year off to a flying start. This was swiftly followed by the two Divisional Exercises which selected the best Alpine and Nordic skiers to go on to the Army Championships held in the French resort of Serre Chevalier and Germany’s Ruhpolding respectively. The Ice Championships at Igls just outside Innsbruck was the last championship to round off this busy season for the Army Winter Sports Association.
Serre Chevalier was again the focus for a full package of events including the Blue Riband Downhill which is set on the demanding Luc Alphand World Cup course. A considerable number of supporters by way of senior military personnel and a growing list of sponsors had an action-packed 9 days; Guts and courage prevailed in what were superb conditions and it was again a battle of the titans to take highest honours with 29 Regt RLC taking the top team spot and SSgt Dougie McPherson taking the individual title. Veteran star Maj Nicky Jordan of the RADC took the ladies title in what she has declared will be her last competitive season; we wait and see! It goes without saying that the sponsors were not let off the hook and after the beady eyes of the selectors had made their choice it was a competitive President’s Race that saw Company led teams struggle to take top place in a parallel slalom; Victory was finally snatched by the Kirkland heavy President’s Team.
The Combined Services Disabled Ski Team (CSDST) was much in evidence having had recent company engineering support from Supacat to develop some of their equipment. Not only were they able to compete but there was also an illuminating experience for many of the visitors who took the opportunity to try “sit”, “mono” and “blind skiing”. All agreed this was a revealing insight into what our young injured soldiers are able to master against the odds.
With CGS leading 15 other 1-3* officers and 13 represented company sponsors, led by the two Alpine headline sponsors of Selex Galileo and Hewlett Packard, it was a wonderful opportunity to establish a rapport and enjoy a thoroughly relaxed and convivial atmosphere. First-timers at this event were given the ability to see just what a unique event this has become and for others it was simply an event not to be missed! With such a great time had by all it’s important to note and reflect that it is through the ongoing generosity of the sponsors enabling events like this that they continue to provide something so challenging and character-building for our soldiers to pursue and enjoy.
A big “thank you” for all the chain of command and sponsors who supported the 2011/12 Winter Sports season.
Team Army Sponsors who attended included Hewlett Packard, Selex Galileo, Agusta Westland, Force Protection, Van Kappel, NP Aerospace, Supacat, LSC, Lockheed Martin, QioptiQ, Resilient Networks and TQ, along with Lamont Kirkland, Rob Pye and Gerald Callus from Team Army.