BY BRIGADIER JONATHAN CALDER -SMITH
CHAIRMAN UK AFWSA ALPINE SKIING DISCIPLINE
The 2017 Inter-Service Alpine Championships were another huge success with some outstanding performances from the Ladies and Men competing at this final Alpine event in the military winter calendar. There were no international teams in 2017 but the Navy, Army and Air Force ensured that the competition was strong nevertheless and it was not clear who would take the honours until the final races. In the Ladies’ competition the Royal Air Force and Army shared the honours across the 4 key races with the Royal Air Force winning the overall Team Combination Cup; whilst in the men’s competition the Army won each race thus securing a clean sweep and winning the Combination Trophy.
In the individual competition Cpl Rachel Hughes (Royal Air Force) secured the overall Individual Combination after wins in the Super G, Slalom and Super Combined races and for the men Midshipman James French was the most consistent skier across all the races thus securing the Men’s Individual Combination.
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank the Méribel team from the ESF for the phenomenal effort in providing such superb races for our competitors and ensuring that the programme runs so smoothly. They are hugely supportive of our Championships and remain flexible to our demands throughout the week we spend in Méribel.
The UK Armed Forces Alpine team was selected at the end of Inter-Service Snow Sports Championships 2017 and went on to compete at the Delancey British National Ski Championships, which were held in Tignes for the third year in row. The 2017 team was based upon not only those who had competed consistently throughout the 2017 Championships but also relied upon availability from individual Services, which can always be a challenge once the routine of normal work resumes! The Alpine team was captained, once again, by Lt Chris Sharrott RN who was also the sole Navy representative; the Royal Air Force competitors were represented by Sqn Ldr Caitlin Wroe, Cpl Rachel Hughes and SAC Barnaby Rudge; and the Army were represented by newcomers Sappers Euan Kick and Duncan Kuwall. Each member of the UK Armed Forces Alpine Team performed exceptionally well against a high quality, world class field that included French World Cup development racers, Japanese and Andorran national racers and 2013 Europa Cup SL Champion and 2014 Team GB Olympian Dave Riding. Of note was Duncan Kuwall’s results which included a magnificent 9th in Downhill.
Looking forward to this year those who have been to Méribel before will note that the Alpine Race programme has not changed this year. You can look forward to 3 days of Downhill, followed by a packed morning of Super G and Super Combined with the Slalom element of that competition taking part on the Méribel Stade that evening. And then at the end of the week we run the Floodlit Parallel Slalom on Thursday (with the exciting Sponsors’ Team Slalom that evening) and on the Friday the final event is the Giant Slalom (followed by the ultra-competitive Sponsors’ Giant Slalom) completing a packed week of Championship races.
It is with great sadness that I confirm that this year will be my last as Chairman of the UK Armed Forces Alpine, a role of I have enjoyed for 10 years. I will be handing over to Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Kitching, an ex-Army skier, who will provide excellent continuity for 2019 and beyond. I wish him and all who have supported me in this great appointment, the very best of luck.