There were blizzards, bumps, crashes and some spectacular racing when Tignes hosted 1000 Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel for the annual Royal Navy Winter Sports Association (RNWSA) Alpine Championships.
Championship Director Commander (Cdr) Nick Howard, welcomed people from across the services to test their skills on the snow, from complete beginners to the experts of the Royal Navy Ski Team.
“Blood, sweat and tears have gone into organising the Alpine Championships, and the reward is seeing individuals take the opportunity to challenge themselves and experience the thrill of alpine racing.”
The Alpine Championships take place over 2 weeks, involving tuition and racing on skis and snowboards, and events including boarder-cross, skier-cross, slope style snowboarding, slalom, giant and super giant slalom.
The Championships is one of the highlights of the Royal Navy’s sporting calendar and is also one of many Adventurous Training (AT) opportunities for Royal Navy personnel. A spokesman said: “The idea is to provide personnel with the opportunity to test themselves in a range of activities designed to take them beyond their comfort zone, present a significant challenge and push individual limits in unfamiliar surroundings. In addition to those learning to ski or board from scratch all others are tested and pushed during lessons and ultimately racing courses that take the competitor to, at times, uncomfortable speeds.”
With 94cm of snowfall, snow depth at 190 cm, and temperatures down to -33C, this year conditions were tough for beginners and experts alike.
LAET Dave Shears said;
“One of the highlights of the Champs is the beginners’ race. For many, they’ve never tried their hand at winter sports, so to race, or slide, down a flood lit-piste, can be a big obstacle to overcome. And we’ve seen these guys develop over the week, so it’s rewarding to see them have the confidence to race in front of a large crowd.”
Often pushing the boundaries are the snowboarders. Their events, such as the Slopestyle, can be quite dangerous and usually take the attributes of an adrenalin junkie to succeed.
POPT Lucy McKenna, RN Snowboard team manager, said;
“Snowboarding is a rad sport that appeals to all sorts of people, whether you want to ride fast, hit the park or just have fun. It also comes with risk and when training for competition half the battle is getting over your own fears in order to perform well and not get injured!”
It wasn’t all work and no play though – the Navy and Marines personnel did not disappoint on the apres front, sticking to their ‘work hard, play hard’ mantra.
The event also offers the Royal Navy Ski and Snowboard Teams the perfect chance to scout for new talent from across the Senior Service and prepare the teams for the Inter Service Championships in Meribel.
Lt Holly Henderson, RN female ski team captain, said;
‘The team has a positive, can do attitude, and have pushed their limits every step of the way during the time spent in the Alps.”
A spokesman said: “This particular year will be remembered for the very challenging blizzard conditions of week one and the start of week two, some fantastic racing and some spectacular crashes!”