Brigadier Lee Daley, Chair Nordic

Nordic Biathlon

NORDIC AND BIALTHLON SEASON 2023/24 – by Major Jack Dimmer


Winter 2023/24 saw the return of the Army Biathlon and Nordic ski season, with both novice and experienced hitting the trails in full force. As Army Biathlon continues to recover from COVID-19, we are pleased to report that not only did participation continue to hit pre-COVID levels but that, encouragingly, roughly 17% of participants were female, 9% belong to the Army Reserve, and rank is split 80% soldiers and 20% officers. Such an even spread of participation, by any metric, demonstrates that this is a sport for all.


At all levels, the fantastic secondary duty volunteers are leading change and development within our sport. Corps committees are stronger than ever, offering 700 soldiers exceptional opportunities, primarily across Scandinavia, to become ski racers. Competition is central to all we do; our training camps and championships continue to build racers using the Army Championship formats. With COVID-19 behind us, skiing quality is on the rise, and we must maintain this momentum.

 The 2023/24 Season


The season started in earnest in the early Autumn of 2023, with training camps from across the Corps taking place up and down the country with some feverish enthusiasm as new and experienced skiers prepared for another exciting season. Roller skis dusted off, and novices plied with bike helmets meant that parade squares were being rerolled at a rate of knots. After a few falls, broken poles, and grazed knees, old and new skiers found their rhythm and got some mileage into the legs. The time and effort spent on the parade squares ultimately paid off with impressive performances from novices and returning skiers alike on snow in Northern Europe before Christmas. Blessed with good conditions across Scandinavia, the loipes were the perfect training ground for the Corps, who benefitted from the excellent snowfall, enabling the full exploitation of the allotted IMT days. One example was the ever-popular infantry training camp held in Idre Fjall, Sweden. It saw well over 100 participants from across the corps skiing and shooting on IBU Cup loipes, putting them in excellent stead for competition post-Christmas. Our thanks go to the Corps Committees for their continued support in planning and delivering these excellent training camps, which lay the foundations for the demanding racing schedule in the New Year at the Divisional and Army Championships.

11The Rifles dropping on the PM!

Post-Christmas leave saw the return of the Divisional Championships, hosted in Les Contamines and Serre Chevalier. At the time, slightly less favourable snow conditions in France meant that the racing schedule had to be adapted somewhat to enable racing. However, though the loipes may have been smaller and less varied than usual, what wasn’t lacking was competitive spirit! The classic rivalries were restored with a vengeance as Cavalry units pitted themselves against Infantry units, the RE wrestled with RA units, and new Divisional Champions were crowned. At SPARTAN HIKE, the infantry dominated proceedings, with 5 Rifles crowned Male team Champions while the 2 Ranger Bn Female team took top spot in their first ever Championships! While over at Ex PIPEDOWN the Royal Engineers Female team performed outstandingly to fight off some stiff competition to be crowned champions and in the Men’s division 17 P&M RLC proved too strong again, looking menacing going into Ex RUCKSACK and taking pole position.  


The Start Line, Ex Rucksack

The #RoadToRuhpolding is a long and winding path, particularly for the Team Captains whose planning and organisation for the season often commences the summer before. However, for those successful at the Divisional Championships, that dedication and commitment was duly rewarded with places at Ex RUCKSACK, the British National and British Army Championships. Again, testing snow conditions put the Committee under stress to deliver racing. However, under the calm guidance of Maj J Sanford, some excellent racing was had by all. In the Women’s division, the Royal Artillery, Royal Engineer rivalry was re-ignited as they battled it out for the top spot, with RA pipping them to be crowned Champions once again! The REME and RLC were hot on their heels, especially REME, who pulled out an exceptional performance to win the Patrol Race. For the Men, 17 P&M RLC battled it out with 5 Rifles and 1 RGR, but this year, 17 P&M RLC were just too good, winning every race and regaining the SAS Cup. A natural rivalry between the Infantry and RLC is developing with 3 of the top 5 spots going to the Infantry while the RLC took the other 2. One to watch next season to see if the Infantry will continue to take some big scalps as their meteoric rise continues.

Looking ahead, Capt A Keenan continues to make great strides with the Army Nordic Development team. He continues to consolidate and develop the emerging talent for GB Biathlon, with many of the skiers in the squad reaping the rewards this season. Check out our SM for Photos and Videos of the Camps.

1 RGR being inspected before the start of the Patrol Race

Elite Athlete Update

Capt Marcus Webb, 1 RHA, remains well and truly on his path to flying the GB and Army flags at the 2026 Winter Olympics. Following his second training season in Norway amongst the best in the world of Biathlon, Marcus has smashed GB lulls in Biathlon, being the first male to qualify for the World Cup since 2017. After a brilliant performance in Italy in January at the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Cup, hitting all ten targets in the 10km sprint, Marcus was given his golden ticket to move up into the World Cup the following day.

At the 2024 World Championships in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, Marcus delivered a spectacular shooting performance considering his short period of 4 years in the sport. He ranked 11th in the world on the range and finished a very respectable 82nd out of 101 athletes. Despite not fighting for the podium just yet, this was an important steppingstone in Marcus’ journey towards the Olympics.


The 24/25 Season will see Marcus back in Lillehammer, Norway, for the 3rd consecutive year, with his place on the Team Kongsberg Biathlon team renewed. The team offers Marcus a world-class training environment; it has no doubt been the corner stone to his improvement since the Olympic dream began.



The 2023 race programme and results can be found at the following link or by typing the following into your search bar – . This includes a link to the photo bank

Ex RUCKSACK 2023 Key statistics

Dates: 25th Jan – 4th Feb 2023

Location:  Cheimgau Arena Ruhpolding

Number of Races: 22

Competitors: 223

Championship Summary: After a 2 year hiatus Ex Rucksack was warmly welcomed back to Ruhpolding Bavaria for the 23rd year and 47th edition of the Championship in the Army Winter Sports Association’s 75th Anniversary year. Following some superb competitions in Serre Chevalier and Les Contamines (France) Army teams were joined by the RAF, Navy and civilians to compete for national and interservice titles at the British National, Army, Interservice Nordic Ski Championships. 22 races where staged with 223 competitors registered from all 3 services regular and reserve, civilian clubs, and international competitors. There was significant change in 2023, a high percentage of novices, a new organising committee and a new Burgermeister (Mayor) or Ruhpolding Justus Pfeifer (a former Tornado in the Luftwaffe). Well supported by our senior officers and blessed with better than forecast snow conditions the competition was a great return to the loips and a rekindling of the hugely positive “Nordic Ethos” and community. Congratulations to our interservice winners the Army, RA Ladies (Female combination winners) and 5 Bn REME (Kentish and SAS Cup Winners). Finally a congratulations to 6RLC the Princess Marina Champions in partnership with their Alpine team.

Cross Country Phase.

The Cross country phase kicked off with the 15Km Classic Technique race. For the first time in Rucksacks history the male and female teams racing equal distances. A women’s field of 37 competitors saw some close racing, the eventual winner Lt Emily Smith (Inf Women) proving the strongest and the RLC Women winning the team title. In the Men’s race WO2 Ben Wooley (17 P&M) secured the win ahead of the former title holder Cpl Ryan Wallace (21 Engr), 17 P&M took the team title and the Army retained both InterService titles.


The 5km XC relay served to reinforce the team positions for both the RLC women and 17 P&M men, both winning to lead the combinations moving into the biathlon phase of the competition.

Biathlon Phase.

The biathlon phase saw a step up in competition with the arrival of the British Biathlon Team. In the Women’s 7.5 Km Sprint Bdr Ciara Mitchell shot well to secure the overall win ahead of strong competition from Holly Rees Lay (London Hyde Park ski club) and Zara Stewart (British Biathlon).



In the team competition the RA women secured a convincing win over the RLC Women. Poor snow conditions forced a re-run of the mens 10km Sprint won by former World Cup athlete and Eurosport commentator (Scott Dixon) closely followed by Sean Benson (British Biathlon). The top 3 services places were closed out by 17P&M, Pte Alfie Sprake winning by almost 1 minute. The Army winning the Inter-Service competition. The Women’s 4 x 6 relay saw a convincing win by the RA Women setting up a patrol race finale for the overall combination. 17 P&M went into the 4 x 7.5 Km Biathlon Relay as firm favourites following their superb 10km performance, however 5 Bn REME had other ideas and carved a minute advantage for their final leg novice skier Lt Seb Tyrie. Pitted against the 10Km Sprint winner and national athlete Pte Alfie Sprake Lt Tyrie held his nerve on the Loips and in the range to leave 5Bn REME in touching distance of the overall Championship victory leading into the patrol race.


Patrol Phase.

A challenging patrol course set by Capt Emily Simpson and Capt Ash Allen saw the competitors inspected by Lt Gen Ian Cave (Commander Home Command) before embarking on a 30 Km ski with 2 visits to the range equipped with the newly converted .22 SA rifles.

The women’s combination hung in the balance between the RLC and the RA. The RA women secured victory with only 2 minutes to spare after over 3 hours of racing to win the overall combination. The strength of 5 Bn REME shone through once again in the patrol with a convincing win confirming their status as Army and Interservice Unit Nordic Team Champions, the first time a REME team has achieved this accolade.


2022 Report

Despite the implications created by COVID-19, the 2021/22 season still saw several units and individuals seize periods on snow and they certainly made the most of the opportunity! In November and December, the teams ventured to the snow-covered countries of Sweden and Norway and they dived straight into the training. For those individuals with experience, they quickly re-discovered their ski legs whilst those new to the sport of Nordic and biathlon approached the experience with some dogged determination.

Before the snow season commenced, various rollerski training camps were delivered across the United Kingdom. The Royal Air Force conducted a successful Nordic pre-season training camp in November at Redbridge Cycling Centre, London, for all abilities to kick-start their training before the snow. They had access to a closed loop track for rollerskiing and laser rifle to learn shooting with a high pulse!


Unfortunately, the COVID travel implications scuppered their on-snow exercise plans and new plans were made. The cancellations did not stop a few determined individuals who used their leave to attend cross-country races in Europe with some very successful results. These included the König Ludwig Lauf race in Germany and the prestigious Birkebeinerrennet in Norway.


The RAF team later travelled to Finland in April to conduct the RAF Nordic cross-country championships where they finished the season by competing in the coveted long-distance Yllas-Levi race, as part of the VISMA Ski Classics marathon calendar.

In September 2021, the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Nordic team commenced training in Kinloss, Scotland to develop their roller-skiing and shooting skills. Access to a range with metal biathlon targets creates a fantastic experience for the students and they developed their technique and accuracy brilliantly. The RNRM team continued their training at the world-class Ridnaun biathlon stadium in Italy in January. Olympian Lee Steve Jackson joined their coaching team to provide fantastic expertise and guidance to set the team up for success in the 2022/23 season.

On the Army side, the Infantry conducted a pre-season preparation and training camp in November in Pirbright. The experienced individuals and coaches, under the guidance of head coach and ex-World Cup athlete Scott Dixon shared their expertise on shooting, ski waxing before departing for Idre Fjall, Sweden. The Infantry had an incredibly successful camp in Sweden where they worked hard to push themselves physically and mentally every day in temperatures as low as – 23 degrees Celsius.

Several Corps from the British Army deployed to the Innlandet region of Norway near the Olympic town of Lillehamer to conduct their Corps training camps. The teams made the long journey by road and ferry from the UK to Norway via France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. Snow conditions were unfortunately not as idyllic as the 2019/20 season but a select number of tracks were still open and the ranges were quickly swarmed by determined soldiers who were keen to learn. Their coaching teams included ex high level athletes from Norway who were left impressed with the soldiers’ dedication to learn cross country and biathlon.

Throughout the 2021/22 winter season, 5 military biathletes represented the British Army and Great Britain in an array of international competitions across the world. Facing a second season with COVID restrictions, they were determined to not let the pandemic hinder races that they had spent the summer preparing for.


Throughout the summer, Sgt Amanda Lightfoot (AGC) and Bombardier Vincent Fountain (RA) trained abroad in Germany with the GB Elite Squad making the most of the Alps and biathlon facilities. Ruhpolding is a fantastic location where they were able to train with other national teams, especially the Japanese, who became very close friends.

Meanwhile in the UK, Lt Marcus Webb RHA, LBdr Ciara Mitchell (RA) and Pte Alfie Sprake (RLC) trained with the Junior and National Development squads at a variety of locations. Until COVID-19 allowed them to train abroad, they made the most of the facilities they could get their hands on which included rifle ranges in Bicester, mountain bike trails in South Wales and cycling circuits for roller skiing.

In August 2021, all the athletes were presented with a unique opportunity to compete at the Summer Biathlon World Championships in Nove Mesto Na Morave, Czech Republic. These were the first international races for Bdr Mitchell and Lt Webb who threw themselves at the opportunity and gained that vital experience of racing at the top level before starting the season.

The winter season commenced in Sweden where Sgt Lightfoot attended races at the World Cup level, Lt Webb, Bdr Fountain and LBdr Mitchell at the IBU Cup level and Pte Sprake on the Junior circuit. There was regular travel across Europe and even to Canada and the U.S.A where Pte Sprake competed at the Junior and Youth World Championships in Soldier Hollow.

We say goodbye to Sgt Lightfoot and Bdr Fountain who have hung up their GB Team race suits for the final time, however we are pretty confident in saying we will see them again at the Army championships in 2023 racing for their Regimental teams!