ISSSC 2023 – Lt Col Spook Spenlove-Brown SCOTS DG, Interim Chair Alpine


‘It’s good to ski for fun, but I still want to win races as often as possible’. Hermann Maier


I was lucky enough to stand in for Col Rupert Kitchen as Chairman Alpine for the championships and my first time at ISSSC.  This year’s season has been hampered throughout by lack of snow and warm weather.  Almost all World Cup racing has been affected and organisers have been at pains to change programmes to suit the conditions.  We were later in the season due to the World Championships held in Courchevel and Meribel some ten days before.  This allowed the teams to have a full week’s training prior to the event on the Olympic piste, honing skills, bonding teams, and individuals after a considerable break off snow.

Arriving in Meribel to rain and sicky wet snow didn’t bode well.  Making a conscious decision to wait for colder conditions later in the week and bank the speed training that had taken place during the previous training week we changed the programme and kicked off with Slalom, sponsored by BT, on a very hot Sunday morning.  The slope had to be salted, which increases the freezing rate and hardens soft snow to keep the snow from rutting.  This changes racing techniques and forces the racers into slower race lines and to make mistakes.  In the men’s race Lt Josh Serdet convincingly beat Cpl Barney Rudge from the RAF by 10 seconds, with Spr Matt Jessop giving the Army individual first and third and securing the team prize.  In the Women’s race Fg Off Kirsty Guest beat Maj Tessa Pirie from the Army, with Lilias Hopkinson from the Royal Navy coming in third.  Overall the Army Women took the team prize with the RAF second by 38.23 points.

We moved on to Giant Slalom, praying for colder conditions and being forced to use salt to stabilise the piste.  The wait for the salt to set the course was rewarded by a great race seeing Kirsty Guest dominate the women’s race, beating Tessa Pirie by a comfortable 9.24 seconds and Lilias Hopkinson again securing a bronze medal.  The Army Women took a convincing team victory with five racers in the top ten with the Royal Navy coming second.  AB Graeme Price from the Royal Navy put down a blistering second run to win the men’s individual competition, with Lt Josh Serdet in second and Lt James French for the Royal Navy in third.  The RAF won the team competition with some great team racing, piping the Royal Navy by 2.62 points.

Due to the weather and some welcomed snow, we delayed a further day starting early to run Super Giant Slalom (Super G), the first of our speed events sponsored by PWC.  We were blessed with a perfect bluebird day and fast course.  In the women’s race Tessa Pirie narrowly missed beating Kirsty Guest by five hundredth of a second, with a now familiar Lilias Hopkinson coming in third.  The Army women failed to get four team members down the course and were disqualified.  The Royal Navy were victorious over the RAF in the team event.  The men’s race was also dominated by the Royal Navy, with Graeme Price taking the gold from his teammate James French and Spr Duncan Kuwall coming in third for the Army.  In the team race the Army were beaten by only 2.27 points by the Royal Navy making it a clean sweep for the senior service in Super G.

With the temperature dropping overnight we gave our competitor perfect conditions for the Airbus sponsored Downhill, the Blue Riband event, on the Roc de Fer piste used as the venue for the 1992 Olympic Downhill.  Speed always gives some surprise results and although the usual suspect featured on the podium but credit should be given to those who gave it their all with some plucky skiing, focus and dedication.  In the women’s race Kirsty Guest won her fourth individual race by just 1.34 seconds from Tessa Pirie, with Cpl Maddy Critchley getting her first podium of the championship in third.  The Army comfortably won the team race with women RAF second and Royal Navy in third.   The Royal Navy cleaned up in the men’s race; Graeme Price winning with James French runner up and Flt Lt Ross Luice-Smith finishing in third for the RAF.  The team race was a convincing victory by the Royal Navy over the Army, with the RAF in third.

Our final race was the combined event, a combination of Downhill and Slalom.  Having taken the downhill results, we started the racers in reverse order for a single slalom run with a rolling podium in the finish area.  As racers beat the next previous competitor, they take up position on the podium (as in the World Cup).  The Women’s combined race was convincingly won by Kirsty Guest, with Tessa Pirie second and Lilias Hopkinson third.  The men’s races saw James French just beat Fg Offr Dan Barton from the RAF by seven hundreds of a seconds and Josh Serdet for the Army taking the Bronze medal.

Overall the Army men and Royal Navy women were outright winners, with Lt Josh Serdet (Army) and Fg Ofr Kirsty Guest RAF as our combined Individual Champions.

Finally a big thank you to Yannick and his ESF team for their huge support, flexibility and good humour for running all the races in challenging condition; the hill team for their dedication, early starts and professionalism; the competitors for a great atmosphere; competitive spirit and some great skiing and the sponsors for their generosity.  Look forward to 2024 and pray for snow.

Major Rob Ronz RA, Chair Alpine

Alpine Skiing – ISSSC 2022

“Obviously, you always want to win, but you want to win by skiing a race that you’re proud of, and you feel like you really challenged yourself and left it all out there.”        Bode Miller


Following the cancellation of two of the three single Service Alpine Championships, the viability of the 2022 Inter-Service Alpine Championships was for some time in considerable doubt. Thankfully after holding our nerve, the Covid situation across Europe improved and the Championship was given the green light. With the disruption to the normal racing and preparation schedule it was always going to be a huge challenge to pull off a full set of races. To achieve this several changes were introduced to ensure that we could race in a meaningful, competitive manner, whilst mitigating against the reduced training and competitive schedule our athletes had undergone during the season. Following careful consultation and consideration it was agreed that Downhill was achievable.  By lowering the start (as we do some years during bad weather) we were able to lower the risk to an acceptable level. After a study of the weather conditions and some de-confliction with Telemark (who share the race piste) we had a race programme and the competition, against all the odds, was on.

Winning a ski race a race can come down to a hundredth of a second, the difference between elation on the podium and the despair of 4th place often rests on the finest of margins. One must consider this when observing the concept of team racing (unique to the British Military) which prioritises a team result above that of an individual. This brings out the best in our people, whether this is in the form of additional pressure to not let down the team, to bank that result; or perhaps an athlete is told to ski within that extra margin of safety forfeiting individual glory for their team. It is this selflessness and ability to deliver under pressure, combined with the moral and physical courage required that make the Inter Service Championships the spectacle that it is.

It remains a huge privilege for racers selected to compete at the highest level of their respective Services to be able to race on facilities that are literally World Class. This year, as ever, the racing would take place on the Roc de Fer, famous as the venue for the 92 Olympic Downhill. First up was the Downhill and even with the small reduction in start height tit remained the longest and most technical Downhill on the Winter Sports Calendar. With Racers reaching speeds in excess of 75 miles per hour the mental preparation for this challenge is equally important as the physical which involved the usual mandatory practice runs. Despite some of our athletes not having raced a Downhill for over 2 years they were not found wanting. The pace, commitment and competitive spirit on display was as fierce as any of the Committee had witnessed.

The day of the Blue Ribband Downhill race gave us perfect racing conditions and it was to be the Army (so often the speed specialists) that capitalised. A clean sweep saw the Army winning both the Men and Ladies team competition, the coveted DH Champion mantles went to Spr Duncan Kuwall and Maj Jen Kehoe. First blood had been drawn; how would the other Services respond?

Next up was the Super G and in the Ladies competition the RAF struck back winning the team event with Cpl Rachael Hughes, their captain, leading by example and winning the individual event, the Ladies competition was alive with all to play for at the halfway mark. In the Men’s competition it was a different story, Spr Duncan Kuwall again led the charge and ably supported by his team mates, the Army again secured the team and individual honours with the RAF falling further behind. For the Senior Service the race was a disaster, two of the four “did not Finish” which saw them disqualified from the team competition and out of the running for the overall event. This is the original cardinal sin at ISSSC and a chastened Royal Navy team had much to ponder that evening, the Men’s competition was now a two horse race, advantage Army.

So on to the Slalom, the most technical of all our events, a tantalising smorgasbord of tight twists and turns, straddles and verticalles, ecstasy and despair. For the RAF Ladies this has often been their best event, could they open a gap today? As for the Men, could the rampaging Army team be reigned in, or would they stretch their lead out of sight? What next for the Royal Navy Men after their calamitous Super G? We were not to be disappointed…

In the Ladies event the RAF team were down to only four starters, this pressure told and a huge error saw them down to three remaining ladies for the second run, they could afford no mistakes. Led by their captain Cpl Rachael Hughes they made none, winning the team and individual. To the Men, the Army, high on confidence and swagger put down the early markers and the RAF found no reply. However, something remarkable was occurring with the Royal Navy, desperate to make amends. Whilst wiser heads might have counselled caution the Royal Navy Men in the finest traditions of their Service, launched at the Slalom with fearless abandon. Fortune favours the bold and this was the case today. Scenes of wild jubilation from the Royal Navy as they swept home the Team and individual honours (AB Graeme Price). The Army pipped to the line left shell shocked, the RAF far behind.


As the final day dawned the Ladies competition would all be decided on the last race with the RAF and the Army neck and neck. In the Men’s competition the Army just had to get their racers down and the overall competition was all but secured. Would we see an upset? Would the Army Men buckle under the pressure? Would the Royal Navy Men double down and win the Giant Slalom, leaving us wondering what could have been? Perhaps the Royal Navy Ladies and RAF men (quiet so far) would go out with a bang?

After all the excitement of the Slalom, it was very much back to business as usual. The RAF Ladies made no mistakes and set the pace, the Army and Royal Navy had no reply, a hat trick of victories for the RAF team and Cpl Rachael Hughes. In the Men’s competition AB Graeme Price yet again flew for the Royal Navy winning the individual, however, he was lonely at the top with his team mates far behind. The Army had a point to make, they methodically crushed the competition placing all their nine racers in the top ten, a brutal statement of depth and talent.

So, we had our winners, in the overall competition the Army Men and RAF Ladies shared the honours. This was mirrored in the individual competition with Spr Duncan Kuwall (Army) and Cpl Rachael Hughes RAF as our combined Individual Champions. Finally a mention in dispatches for Capt Tom Windsor-Clive (Army) and Capt Emily Wilson (Army) who were crowned best Newcomers.

Another Championship ended, one unlike any other, a delightful, mesmerising, socially distanced spectacular, what a great event this is. Most importantly each Service tasted victory, much to celebrate, much to rue, much to look forward to in 23 – see you then.


Team Combined Champions Army
Team Downhill Winners Army
Team Super G Winners Army
Team GS Winners Army
Team Slalom Winners Royal Navy
Individual Combined 3rd Cpl Findley FARQUHARSON
Individual Combined 2nd Cpl Hayden GRAND
Individual Combined Champion Spr Duncan KUWALL
Individual Downhill Winner Spr Duncan KUWALL
Individual Super G Winner Spr Duncan KUWALL
Individual Giant Slalom Winner AB Graeme PRICE
Individual Slalom Winner AB Graeme PRICE
Individual Super Combination AB Graeme PRICE
Best Newcomer (Male) Capt Tom Winsdor-Clive
Team Combined Champions RAF
Team Downhill Winners Army
Team Super G Winners RAF
Team GS Winners RAF
Team Slalom Winners RAF
Individual Combined 3rd Maj Jen KEHOE
Individual Combined 2nd SAC Winks BAXTER
Individual Combined Champion Cpl Rachel HUGHES
Individual Downhill Winner Maj Jen KEHOE
Individual Super G Winner Cpl Rachel HUGHES
Individual Giant Slalom Winner Cpl Rachel HUGHES
Individual Slalom Winner Cpl Rachel HUGHES
Individual Super Combination Cpl Rachel HUGHES
Best Newcomer (Female) Capt Emily WILSON
The Delaney Trophy for

Outstanding Achievement

Best Disabled Skier Kevin DRAKE
Sponsors/Officials GS Trophy Paco SEGOVIA, AirTanker
Team Sponsors Race Winners The Ladies Team