Snowboarding

Air Commodore Dave Tozer, Chairman Snowboard

The ISSSC 2020 Snowboard competition in Meribel, was concluded prior to the COVID-19 pandemic taking a grip on all our lives. I hope we’ll find a way back to slopes sometime in the 2020/21 season but this is unlikely to be overseas in the near term. We are, undoubtedly all going to miss the cut and thrust and comradeship of the inter-services in 2021.  That said, we will endeavour to create some snowboard opportunities for athletes, spectators, VIPs and sponsors to maintain our skill and connections, such that we ensure we can resume whenever it is safe.  This year, Meribel again put together a great set of events, in collaboration with the ever professional UKAF Snowboard Hill Team. The achievement of a safe, fair and challenging set of events takes planning, skill and professionalism from a small number of motivated and dedicated people. The Hill Team rarely get a mention but without them it would be impossible to deliver the high level of competition that spectators enjoy and that the riders must overcome.  Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Ledger deserves a special mention for his long-standing service to Army and UKAF snowboarding and he was the recipient of the Delaney trophy for his exceptional contribution – a most worthy winner.

This season as like many others the 3 single Service teams had a broad range of talent and there were some great individual match ups to look forward to. With a few notable absences, the door was open for some new faces to emerge and for a few older ones to reassert themselves on the competition. On paper the Royal Navy ladies looked strongest with the dynamic Ingram duo of Surgeon Commander Stephanie and Lieutenant Lucy in good form and Leading Survival Equipment Technician (LSET) Aaby Aldridge expected to lead the charge. The Army had several new female riders supporting the experience of Major Kelly Richards and Captain Rochelle Bales, only time would tell if the younger and less experienced riders would be able to contribute in the crucible of the inter-services. In contrast, the RAF ladies had a difficult run up to the competition and were only able to field a team of 5 so were starting on the back foot. That said, the RAF ladies had hopes that teamwork would help them rise to the challenge. In the men’s competition there was a rather more balanced situation with everyone feeling that their Service had a realistic shout at victory, but with Leading Aircraft Engineering Technician Ross Taylor and Able Seaman Ian Sanderson absent though injury and availability the Navy team was depleted but remained confident and determined. Stand out riders to look out for during the Championships centred around Flight Lieutenant Paddy Morris and Sergeant Josh Rathbone (RAF), Sergeant Dale Gallagher, Corporal Chris Gregory, Lance Corporal Matty Hannah (British Army) and Marine Chris Harrington Royal Marine (Royal Navy).

With snow in abundance again, the Meribel course setters and park shapers created a very challenging Snowboard Cross course which even had Chris Gregory – our Great Britain Snowboard Cross Team member – suggesting in the politest terms,  that “the start was very sporty” [well I think that was what he said- Ed]. In fact, after much deliberation and some training the Jury elected to reshape the start and return to complete the event the following day.  This even witnessed the Jury wielding an assortment of interesting implements to get the job done. Once underway on Monday the event ran smoothly from the perspective of the competition Jury but less so for the riders with conditions cutting up and number of the elements causing extremely close racing.

The Top 8 men had a fairly event split with 3 Army, 3 Royal Navy and 2 Royal Air Force riders fighting their way to the semi-finals. The Big Final, where the medals are fought for, was a Tri-service affair with Flight Lieutenant Paddy Morris coming out on top, just pipping Corporal Chris Gregory into second with Staff Sergeant Dale Gallagher taking Bronze. The 4th rider, the most painful of positions, Able Seaman Stewart Forbes was the best Navy competitor on the day and given the experience of the other riders put in a highly creditable performance.

In the ladies’ event the RAF struggled to make an impact and the final was a 50:50 split Army: RN. The finalists were all UKAF team veterans. All exceptionally determined to perform for their teams and individual glory. With little to split the 4 finalists the start would be critical but with opportunities to overtake, composure under pressure would be necessary to produce an error free run. The final run was conducted with no infringements or incident with Major Kelly Richards taking gold, followed by LSET Aaby Aldridge with Captain Rochelle Bales picking up bronze. The 4th place being left to Lieutenant Lucy Ingram.

The Army had a great collective performance winning the team event in both categories, the Royal Air Force coming second in the men’s event and third in the ladies’ competition. The Royal Navy men pushed into third and the Navy ladies only a handful of points back from the Army ladies. Much to play for in the 2 remaining events.

The Parallel Slalom (PSL) qualifiers were held in Mottaret and the grand floodlit finals were held in of the Stade, Meribel. The British Army and Royal Air Force men showed their strength in the qualifications getting 6 riders each through to the finals restricting the Royal Navy men to the 4 remaining slots. In contrast the Royal Air Force ladies were shut out from the finals with the British Army and Royal Navy ladies taking a 5:3 share respectively into the night event.

Now the night competition is always a great spectacle and with huge amounts of snow, course preparation was challenging but the course set one of the best in memory. The PSL is a fickle event, qualification is one thing, but the art is maintaining pressure on your opponent across both legs of each race. An effective rider will be able to push hard in both runs, being close after the first run, applying pressure to their opponent over 2 legs but vitally, they will ensure that they stay upright for all of the second leg – otherwise the tilt for victory comes to an abrupt conclusion.

Flight Lieutenant Paddy Morris (RAF) fresh from the Snowboard Cross victory relishes all aspects of competition and fought hard to get through the Semi-finals along with Corporal Chris Gregory and 2 other Army riders Staff Sergeant Dale Gallagher and Lance Corporal Dan Robinson. The all Army semi-final saw Robinson advance and Paddy Morris saw off the challenge of Chris Gregory. In the final Paddy controlled the race applying pressure and ran out victorious over Dan Robinson. Dan was the least experienced of the Army riders, exhibiting determination, skill and control, which will undoubtedly see him succeed in the next few years. In the bronze medal race Chris Gregory matched his colleague but over 2 runs just had too much pace for Dale Gallagher.

The ladies PSL event was a 2-service concern.   Lieutenant Lucy Ingram responded in a focused and highly competitive manner, fighting through the Army dominated field to get into the gold / silver race against the lesser known Corporal Lynsey Corrieri who had outperformed here qualification seeding, defeating faster qualifying riders to get into the ultimate race. In the end Lucy’s experience and thirst bested the younger rider, but it was a close-run thing. Major Kelly Richards managed to hold off the threat of Surgeon Commander Steph Ingram to capture Bronze which gave the Navy team the advantage in the team event, with the Army a close second. In the men’s team result the Army dominated with the RAF taking silver ahead of the RN men.

Once again, the deciding event could prove the undoing of a team. Slopestyle requires skill, feel and a focus, that can be difficult to maintain throughout practice, qualification and finals. The weather wasn’t great, but the riders all seemed up for the test. The Royal Navy men, despite missing key riders showed their team spirit and determination to perform well, getting 5 riders into the 10-rider final with the Army qualifying 3 and the RAF 2 riders. The odds seemed stacked for the RN. After A great first run Lance Corporal Matty Hannah had an unsurpassable score, Marine Chris Harrington spoiled an all Army podium being shaded into 2nd, with Staff Sergeant Gallagher exhibiting that practice and consistency pays off taking 3rd. The men’s team event was won by the Royal Navy, with the Army 2nd and RAF 3rd. In the ladies’ event the final was dominated by the experienced Navy team 4 of the 6 finalists coming from their ranks and guaranteeing the team victory. LSET Aaby Aldridge was 1 point better than Lieutenant Lucy Ingram with Surgeon Commander Steph Ingram only 2 points off first place. The RN ladies won the team event followed by the Army and then the RAF. The best trick award and winner of the Nelson Pratt memorial award went to LCpl Matty Hannah.

The best newcomer was won by Able Seaman Simon Andrews (RN). In the women’s overall individual competition, Lieutenant Lucy Ingram cemented her reputation as an excellent rider and the best lady in UKAF Snowboarding, with her teammate LSET Aaby Aldridge improving her 2019 result to take 2nd and Major Kelly Richards taking her first overall medal in 3rd. In the men’s competition Flight Lieutenant Paddy Morris reclaimed his overall champion spot, with the Army’s Staff Sergeant Dale Gallagher and Corporal Chris Gregory 2nd and 3rd.

The UK Armed Forces Snowboard overall ladies’ team competition was won by the Royal Navy, taking 2 of the 3 events with the Army and RAF, 2nd and 3rd respectively. The men’s team competition was won by the Army, who managed to see off the challenges of the other 2 services by a pretty comfortable margin, The Royal Navy men winning the Slopestyle event contributed to their 2nd place with the Royal Air Force 3rd.

All the riders once again exhibited all that is great about military sport; servicewomen and men, competing hard on the courses and in the park, but maintaining a sporting attitude and camaraderie away from competition. Being part of the UKAFWSA Hill team and Snowboard community remains a privilege and honour and I hope we will be back on the Slopes of Europe soon.

ISSSC 2020 Snowboarding Results
EventTrophyIndividualTeam
MEN   
Team Combined ChampionsMcKinsey & Co IS Winning Team (Men)Army 
Best NewcomerThe Johnny Lowe CupAB Simon AndrewsRoyal Navy
Best TrickNelson Pratt Trophy SnowboardCpl Matty HannahArmy
Team SBX WinnersSSVC Champion Team MenArmy
Team Parallel Slalom Winners  Army
Team Slopestyle Winners Royal Navy 
Individual SBX WinnerSSVC SBX Mens WinnerFlt Lt Paddy MorrisRAF
Individual Parallel Slalom WinnerCSWSA Glass TrophyFlt Lt Paddy MorrisRAF
Individual Slopestyle WinnerRaytheon I/Svcs Snowboard TrophyCpl Matty HannahArmy
Individual Combined 3rd Cpl Chris GregoryArmy
Individual Combined 2nd SSgt Dale GallagerArmy
Individual Combined WinnerCS Snowboard Championships ShieldFlt Lt Paddy MorrisRAF
LADIES 
Team Combined ChampionsMcKinsey & Co IS Winning Team (Ladies)Royal Navy 
Individual Combined 3rd Maj Kelly RichardsArmy
Individual Combined 2nd LSET Aaby AldridgeRoyal Navy
Individual Combined WinnerRAF FinningleyLt Lucy IngramRoyal Navy
Individual SBX WinnerSSVC SBX Ladies WinnerMaj Kelly RichardsArmy
Individual Parallel Slalom Winner Lt Lucy IngramRoyal Navy
Individual Slopestyle WinnerThe Molyneaux TrophyLEST Aaby AldridgeRoyal Navy
Team SBX WinnersSSVC Champion Team LadiesArmy 
Team Parallel Slalom Winners  Royal Navy
Team Slopestyle Winners  Royal Navy