Telemark celebrated a complete set of Service teams for the first time at Meribel 2012 with the participation of a full RAF squad under Sqn Ldr Pat Mitchell RAF. They were not an entirely unknown entity, having joined their Army and Royal Navy counterparts a few weeks earlier for practice racing at the British championships. But the challenge of competition at this level for the first time saw a recognisable increase in their racing skill over just a few weeks as their experience increased. It is great to have them fully onboard.
The overall standard of racing at ISSSC 2012 was notably higher across the board, but with the relative inexperience of the RAF and a number of the Royal Navy’s best racers having retired in the last year or being unavailable for operational reasons, a re-run of the incredibly close 2011 competition was always going to be unlikely. As it turned out Maj Andrew Clarke achieved an unprecedented clean sweep of all the ISSSC races, sealing his dominance of the sport at this level. Supported by strong performances from Maj ‘Chippy’ White RE, Capt Alex Keeley RIFLES and OCdt Anna Morrisey EUOTC (racing as an individual), all of whom achieved podium places, the team prizes, including the team combined champion prize, were all won by the Army. The most notable challenges to Army hegemony in 2012 came from Cpl Gordon McRae (RMR Scotland) and Lt Col Graham Armour RM, both skiing for the Royal Navy, who achieved silver in the Classic and GS respectively.
Competing with the ‘old hands’ who have raced for a number of seasons there were several racers who show real promise for the future. Capt Alex Kealey was awarded the ‘best newcomer’ prize and OCdt Anna Morrisey is already a fixture with Team GB at Telemark World Cup events. They are ‘ones to watch’ in future years.
The weather played its part and heavy snowfall in the early part of the week saw an adjustment to the race programme. Fortunately this did not affect race standards and indeed provided a chance better balance the programme on the Stade, a balance that will be carried forward to 2013. Changes to the rules for 2013 will mean that the Parallel Sprint, a demonstration event in the past, will now be included into the individual and team combination calculations. This is a great step forward that mirrors changes at the national and international level but will still produce the same spectacular head to head racing and spectator involvement. Changes off the field mean that Brig Dickie Haldenby has moved upwards to become Vice-Chairman AWSA and I have taken on the task of flying the Combined Services Telemark flag and engaging with our sponsors, IBM, to whom we remain extremely grateful for their enthusiastic support. We look forward to painting the slopes IBM blue in 2013.