BobsleighLieutenant Colonel Helen Smyth

The 2017/18 season was a busy one which saw two key events occur with the Inter Service Championships and the Winter Olympic Games.

The Winter Olympic Games took place in Pyeongchang, South Korea from 9-25 February 2018.  The UK AFWSA had two athletes competing in the Winter Olympics.  LSgt Lamin Deen (Army) who had finished the World Cup Season ranked 11th in the world and Pte Nick Gleeson (Army) were selected to represent their country in South Korea.  Pte Gleeson was Britain’s youngest Olympic bobsleigher, having competed four months after his 21st birthday.  As a brakeman Pte Gleeson pushed Brad Hall to 17th place in the 4 man race and LSgt Deen piloted his 4 man bobsleigh to 18th place.

Both athletes arrived in Igls during the training week for the Inter Services.  They both managed to get their required laufs in prior to race day.  It was all the more notable for Pte Gleeson as he had not driven a bobsleigh since the Inter Service Championships in Lillehammer in 2017 as he had been a brakeman in South Korea.

Turning to the Inter Service Championships which had returned to Igls in Austria, there was a strong turn out from all three Services, all of them vying to take the Inter Service Trophy.  Female participation was strong this year with 3 RN teams, 3 Army teams and 2 RN teams (there would have been more RN teams but deployments and courses prevented a number of female athletes from being released).  Igls is a starter’s track and is not as technical as some of the tracks visited in recent years.  At Igls, if you start well at the top of the track, you generally finish in a good position.  It was a competitive 2 days of racing for the bobsleighers, with 2 runs each day.  The RAF took the male team trophy from the Army this year having taken the wooden spoon last year; the Army took 2nd place with the wooden spoon going to the RN/RM.  The RAF female team held onto their Team title from last year with the Army and RN/RM maintaining their 2016/17 positions of 2nd and 3rd respectively.

For the individual results, the male champions were LSgt Lamin Deen and LCpl Rick Ray from the Army and this year’s Best Male Novice Driver was LCpl John Hall RN/RM who was also crowned RN Champion at their Championships held earlier in the week.  The Fastest Brakeman was Pte Luke Dawes from the Army in his first season as a brakeman.  The Female Champions were Sgt Nat McLaughlin with Flt Lt Aly Phippen pushing her.  Flt Lt Phippen also took the fastest brakewoman trophy (fastest in all 4 laufs).  The best female novice driver also came from the RAF and this was Cpl Mel Benfield.

The Inter Services will move to a more technical track in 2018/19 – this will be Konigssee in Germany.  The Inter Services were last held on this track in 2010 so all athletes and staff are looking forward to returning to the challenges that this track holds.

Bobsleigh InterServices Results

Male Team:

1st – RAF

2nd – Army

3rd – RN/RM

Female Team:

1st – RAF

2nd – Army

3rd – RN/RM

Male Champions – LSgt Lamin Deen/LCpl Rick Ray – Army

Best Male Novice Driver – LCpl John Hall RN/RM

Fastest Brakeman – Pte Luke Dawes (5.28 secs) – Army

Female Champions – Sgt Nat McLaughlin/Flt Lt Aly Phippen

Best Female Novice Driver – Cpl Mel Benfield RAF

Fastest Brakewoman – Flt Lt Aly Phippen (6.16 secs) RAF