Olympic Luge Discipline
Lieutenant Commander Ed Rolls
2018 presented a year of highs and lows for Luge. As mentioned in last year’s report, this is, and remains, a sport which relies on the unflappable, calm and dispassionate abilities of the slider to remain relaxed and focussed at speed, and without the luxury of brakes. Some of our athletes have managed their own training and International competitions throughout the year, and all three Services have held their own Single Service training camps and events, culminating in the Inter Service Championships held in Igls, Austria in early March.
From an individuals’ perspective, Sgt Dani Scott (Army), Gdsm Ray Thompson (Army), Sgt Danny Burke (RAF), Cpl John-Paul Kibble (RAF) and SAC(T) Luke Farrar (RAF) have all been out sliding across Europe, and variously participating in the Igls Nations Cup, with the Konigssee World Cup and Winterberg World Champs planned for the New Year. Danny and JP are now the UK Doubles pair, something not tried with any great focus in UK Luge for a good few years, so watch this space for future news of their successes.
The 2017/18 season saw plenty of training from the Army and RAF, with the RN able to manage only one week ahead of the Inters. The Army again extended tremendous hospitality towards the RN by making spaces available for their ab initio sliders to learn the
ropes on the Army Ice Camp, this year run in Igls, Austria. The RAF similarly ran their Ice Camp there too, followed by single service Novice camps from the Army and RAF, along
with various individuals’ participation in International events, mentioned above.
However for all this preparation and planning, it can’t be ignored that Luge is fundamentally a sport with inherent risks, and that the personal courage and commitment of those that participate – at any level of ability – is phenomenal. As much risk as is practicable is mitigated through sensible precautions, and plenty of time and consideration is given to safety, allowing training and race events to be held with as little risk apparent to the athletes as possible. Nevertheless, the reduction of risk is not the total removal of risk, and unfortunately incidents can happen. Sadly, SAC Siobhan Rattray from the RAF was seriously injured earlier in the year during single service training, and as a result suffered significant injuries which will take a long time to overcome. Improvements in her condition have meant that she was able to be transferred to Stanford Hall where both Siobhan and the very dedicated staff at Stanford have continued her hard fought rehabilitation. Since then Siobhan’s progress has been steady, and we were all delighted to hear the very welcome news that she has recently become engaged to her boyfriend Henry. Luge is a very tight-knit community, irrespective of Service, forged through the dangers and risks that we all pursue. All of our thoughts are with Siobhan during her recovery and we wish Siobhan and Henry all the best for their future together.
Marking the end of this season, the Inter Service Ice Champs were held (as with the Ice Camp) at Igls, allowing many of the newer sliders to be able to consolidate their skill at the same track on which they cut their Luge teeth. All three Services conducted a final week of single Service training immediately beforehand, and all athletes were ready and raring to go for Race Day. This coincided with the visit of the ‘Beast from the East’ and temperatures in Igls routinely plummeted to below -20 degrees, causing all sorts of difficulty with the support vehicles in the mornings, and making for some very, very hard, and therefore very fast, ice all week.
After a genuinely thrilling Race Day, the results were as follows:
Mens’ Champion: SAC(T) Luke Farrar (RAF)
Mens’ Runner Up: Gdsm Ray Thompson (Army)
Ladies’ Champion: Sgt Dani Scott (Army)
Ladies’ Runner Up: Capt Lucy Wyatt (Army)
Team Winners: RAF
Team Runner Up: Army
The 2019 Inter-Services Championships will be held at Konigssee, on the German/Austrian border, and following an exhilarating season this year, we look forward to seeing you there soon.