Colonel Chris Haw Royal Marines, Chairman Telemark


2020 Inter Services Championships

The Telemark season fixtures got off to a great start in January with the 4th British, RN and Army Championships taking place in Pralognan-la-Vanoise (PLV) under Exercise TELEMARK TITAN and the 2nd RAF Telemark Championships in Saalbach Hinterglemm under the RAF Alpine Association Winter Sports Championships.

Ex TELEMARK TITAN is open to all levels of ability, from those who have hardly been on snow to the elite skiers of the GB Telemark team. The exercise is split into two phases; training and competition and is superbly supported by the resort directing staff of PLV.  This year’s single Service overall winners were Mne Max Carnegie for the RN, who took Gold in both the GS and Sprint, with Major Luke Davies (2nd) and CSgt Steve Farrant (3rd) and for the Army, Lt Ben Atkinson, who took the individual title in the Classic with Cpl Henry Munns (2nd) and Lt Col Daz Howells (3rd). 1st place in the Ladies competition went to Lt Nix Symons of the RN.

The RAF Telemark Ski Championships was the largest and most competitive to date with the RAF Telemark Team taking advantage of the excellent snow conditions and reserved racing pistes in Saalbach Hinterglemm to develop new potential and hone the skills of the more experienced team members. In the men’s competition, Team Captain, Wg Cdr Jono Young put in a sterling performance to win the overall title with Sqn Ldr Pat Mitchell in a close second place. Flt Lt Rich Pike completed the podium with a 3rd place. 2020 was the first year a Ladies Championship was held; Flt Lt Sarah Shave took top of the podium with Flt Lt Helen Davies in second place.

ISSSC 2020 has been another fantastic, ground-breaking, year for Telemark which saw the first Female competition and our first ever Night Race.  In a week which saw some challenging weather, comprising heavy rainfall at the start of the week followed by a drop in temperature, which turned the Roc De Fer Stad into a solid icy slope, adding an extra dimension to the competition for our racers. Flexibility was therefore the order of the day and both the hill teams and ctte are to be congratulated for pulling together a first-rate programme.

The men’s individual racing was the highest standard we’ve seen for many years, with the ‘new guard’ including Lt Ben Atkinson (Army) and Mne Max Carnegie (RM) vying for top positions against previous Champions Lt James French (RN) and Lt Robbie Houstoun (Army). The first race, the Giant Slalom, saw an upset, with Robbie Houstoun failing to podium after an uncharacteristic mistake, allowing first timers Atkinson and Carnegie to take 2nd and 3rd behind a superb performance from French who went on to make a convincing clean sweep in all 4 events. After a shaky start Houstoun regained form to take silver in the Sprint and parallel sprint, to take second overall whilst a consistent performance from Atkinson allowed him overall victory over Carnegie taking Bronze and Best Newcomer title.

The quality of the racers in both the RN and Army, which also comprised many of the ‘old stalwarts’ including Team Captain Gordie McCrae, the Davies Brothers and a Grand Finale from former Discipline Chairman Col Graeme Armour from the RN as well as Team Captain Daz Howells, Danny Johnson and LCpl Henry Munns from the Army meant that despite the RAF producing arguably their strongest team ever and seeing 5 racers in the top 15, including Flt Lt Rich Pike and Wg Cdr Jono Young taking 8th and 9th overall respectively, they were no match for the seasoned experience of the senior Services in the men’s competition.

Although we’ve seen female representation from both Army and RAF in the past; with ‘Champs favourite’ Sqn Ldr Clare Thomas absent on maternity leave, it was the RN who finally managed to get 2 participants and a first variable race. The Meribel Race piste is unforgiving for Alpine racing, but for Telemark it’s the most challenging in the Calendar and both S/Lt Nix Symonds, who eventually emerged Champion, and Lt Emma Barry are to be congratulated for extremely brave debut performances. With Female representation in all 3 Services increasing and Armed Forces support for additional athletes to participate in Meribel, 2021 looks set to be ‘the year’ for our 1st Tri-Service Ladies Championships, so standby!

With wins in the GS, Classic and Sprint the RN looked likely for a clean sweep, but thanks to an epic comeback from the Army in the Parallel the plan was foiled! Despite this, the RN had done more than enough to take the overall Championship for another year.

Big thanks to the Committee and Hill team for putting on yet another extraordinary spectacle and possibly the best year yet for Telemark and to all the racers who yet again epitomised Telemark’s unique esprit d’corps . With a growing female contingent which looks likely to include a resurgent RAF Ladies team and with the quality of depth in our young cohort of new competitors the future is certainly bright for Armed Forces Telemark. Finally, a special thanks must go to the sponsors of the event, without them the ISSSC would not be possible, in particular, Cobham for sponsoring the Giant Slalom, BT Cisco for the Classic and BMT for the Sprint and Parallel Sprint.

Individual GS Winner Lt James French Royal Navy
Individual Sprint Winner Lt James French Royal Navy
Individual Classic Winner Lt James French Royal Navy
Individual Sprint Parallel Winner Lt James French Royal Navy
Team GS Winners Royal Navy
Team Sprint Winners Royal Navy
Team Classic Winners Royal Navy
Team Parallel Sprint Winner Army
Best Newcomer Lt Ben Atkinson Army
Individual Combined 3rd Place Lt Ben Atkinson Army
Individual Combined 2nd Place Lt Robert Houston Army
Individual Combined Champion Medal & Old Ski Lt James French Royal Navy
Team Combined Champions Medal & Old Ski Royal Navy