Telemark Skiing

Colonel Graham Armour Royal Marines

Chairman Telemark

2018 British Telemark Championships in Pralognan-la-Vanoise (PLV), France.

The 2018 Telemark Racing season kicked off with numerous UK service personnel in key positions running the GB leg of the FIS Telemark World Cup in PLV.  This was a two-day spectacle that saw the best skiers on the World Cup circuit, competing on the very course that would shortly become the race piste for the GB Telemark Championships.  The weather at the start of the week provided challenging conditions to all participants, with rain, heavy snow and then more rain resulting in heavy skiing.  Unfortunately, the Championship Giant Slalom race had to be cancelled, as the piste had turned to slush, but better conditions and a cold snap allowed the Classic and Sprint races to run unhindered.  Once again, the resort of PLV was superbly helpful, working hard to provide good race pistes and high-quality facilities.  Good sustenance kept the competitors in fine fettle and the ESF provided top-notch telemark instructors.  In the overall GB results, 6 servicemen achieved top 10 finishes and special mention goes to OCdt Emsley (2nd) and 2Lt Houstoun (3rd) who attained podium positions in the overall combined results.  The GB Championships will return to PLV in Jan 2019 and it is interesting to note that, during the off-season the resort has invested in further snow making facilities, so we look forward to another superb GB championships in 2019.

2018 Inter Services Championships in Meribel.

Following on from PLV, the scene was set for a thoroughly competitive ISSSC in Meribel.  The Army and Navy skiers had battled it out at PLV and the Army were also seeking revenge for the team defeat they suffered at ISSSC in 2017, whilst the Navy were keen to maintain their winning streak.  The RAF, not to be outdone, provided further evidence that they are developing a very competitive squad, including Sqn Ldr Clare Thomas, currently our only female competitor.  We are very keen to encourage more servicewomen to follow Clare’s example and take up telemarking.  Please come and give it a try if you haven’t before.

Sqn Ldr Clare Thomas showing how it’s done.

The well-established Meribel racing programme was conducted in great snow conditions, commencing with the Giant Slalom, where the Navy displayed their strength in depth and took the title, however, 2Lt Robbie Houstoun squeezed into 2nd place, between SLt James French and veteran competitor Lt Col Huan Davies.

The Classic and the Sprint Races followed a similar pattern on the podium, with French, Houstoun and Davies battling it out, with the Navy taking the team event.

Capt Gordie McCrae RMR in action.

The final event, the Telemark Parallel Sprint, yet again proved to be the ISSSC jewel in the crown, drawing in big crowds as the Telemarkers went head-to-head…..or was it the tasty barbeque beside the finish line).  The camaraderie of inter-service telemark, is always evident at this event, wonderfully typified by Royal Navy Coach Andy Stewart cheering on RAF skier Sqn Ldr Adam Shave in the final metres of the skate.

The ISSSC individual title was on a knife edge, with last year’s dual champion SLt James French taking himself out of the running by choosing to concentrate on his final Alpine races.  The fight for the title of individual Telemark Champion was decided on the final race, when the youth of 2Lt Houstoun was too strong for stalwart Lt Col Huan Davies.

Robbie Houston edging ahead of Huan Davies on the 360 Degree “wrap”.

After a fantastic week of competitive telemark racing the final combined results were:

Individual Title


1st 2Lt Robert Houstoun Scots DG

2nd Lt Col Huan Davies RM

3rd Capt Gordon McCrae RMR

Team Title –  The Royal Navy

And finally, 2018 was Brigadier Jonathan Calder-Smith’s last year as Director ISSSC and the Telemark community would like to thank him for all his support throughout his tenure – despite his refusal to “free the heel”.  We wish him every success for the future.