Colonel Chris Haw Royal Marines, Chairman Telemark
2019 Inter Services Championships in Meribel – Telemark Report
2019 saw the British and Army & RN Championships return to Pralognon-la-Vanoise (PLV), France for the third consecutive year. This year’s Championship coincided with PLV hosting a FIS Telemark World Cup event over the final weekend, which provided a phenomenal culmination to some excellent racing. Meanwhile in Saalbach Hinterglemm, the RAF Winters Sports Alpine Association hosted the first ever RAF Telemark Sprint Classic Championship race. With all 3 Services having had the opportunity to hone their skills competitively the scene was set for a great week of Telemark racing in Meribel…
Sub Lt James French RN – Textbook
With the Roc De Fer race piste in great condition thanks to the outstanding work of the Meribel Hill Team, the Telemark Championship got underway with the Cobham Giant Slalom. The race, which comprises only the downhill elements of Telemark, provides an effective ‘warm up’ to this arduous discipline’s subsequent events and saw the first of our competitors take to the air in a race which set the scene for the week. It was clear the RN meant business taking 6 of the top 8 positions but in the lead was Lt Robbie Houstoun of the British Army beating former GB Champion, Sub Lt James French RN, by only 0.14 sec over 2 runs. Third place went to RN Team Captain and veteran, Capt Gordie McCrae of the Royal Marines.
RAF Team Captain Sqn Ldr Jono Young ‘Rises above the Rest’
Next up was the BT Classic, Telemark’s Blue Ribbon event and an ISSSC favourite. Comprising a single run descent of 300m, a formidable 20m jump and 360 degree wrap and finally, a 300m undulating skate this race is sadistically designed to test every fibre of one’s aerobic and anaerobic capacity; if there was an event to showcase military courage and grit this would be it! On a stunning, bluebird day with the ISSSC BBQ in full flow and a healthy crowd taking advantage of the ample refreshments, the competitors took to the snow. With a DNF from James French, the course was clear for a convincing win for the Army’s Robbie Houston, but again the RN showed tremendous depth taking 2nd to 5th to secure the Team points. The RAF set the exemplar for character and team spirit to safely take Team Bronze.
Grit in the Classic
The BT Telemark Sprint ran to similar form with convincing individual and team wins for the Army and RN respectively, whilst enabling seeding for one of the most exciting BMT Parallel Sprint finales of any ISSSC Telemark Championships. After a hard first round, relative new comer Flt Lt Rich Pike performed superbly to become the only member of the RAF to make it to the ¼ Final; however, it was the Petite Final ‘Battle of the Captains’ which saw some superb competition and first class entertainment with Army Team Captain Maj Daz Howells coming back from a disappointing DNF in the GS to take Bronze over Capt Gordie McCrae RM. And with James French unavailable, Lt Robbie Houstoun took a convincing win over Sgt Luke Stroud RM who delivered the performance of a lifetime to take Silver.
RN and Army Battle it out in the Wrap
With wins in 3 out of 4 races Lt Robbie Houstoun was a convincing winner in the individual event; however, from that outset and throughout the RN proved too strong for the other Services winning every Team prize. Whilst relative newcomers, the RAF, took the Bronze Team position yet again the gap between them and the other Services continues to narrow, so standby for 2020 and some great racing!
ISSSC Telemark Champion Lt Robbie Houstoun looks for his competition
Finally, recognition and thanks to Yannick Favieres, for his forbearance and professionalism in co-ordinating the Hill Team and another superb event and À la prochaine and a huge thanks to Col Paddy Armour RM who hands over Chairmanship of Telemark to Col Chris Haw RM for 2020.
BMT Parallel Sprint Podium: 1st Lt Robbie Houstoun, 2nd Sgt Luke Stoud RM, 3rd Maj Daz Howells
After a fantastic week of competitive Telemark racing the final combined results were:
1st 2Lt Robert Houstoun Scots DG
2nd Lt Col Huan Davies RM
3rd Capt Gordon McCrae RMR
Team Title The Royal Navy