High-octane racing action at the 2015 Army Alpine Championships!

The snow was a bit thin on the ground at this year’s EXERCISE LION’S CHALLENGE, but this didn’t stop nearly 120 Army racers from competing at high speed in Slalom, Giant Slalom (GS), Super GS and the awesome, heart-in-the-mouth Downhill.

Sponsors watching the action up close and personal!

Sponsors watching the action up close and personal!

Running in tandem with the racing was the hugely successful Army Winter Sports Association (AWSA) and Team Army presented visitor’s programme, enabling sponsors to engage with soldiers and senior military personnel whilst engrossed in some really exciting racing. The Combined Services Disabled Ski Team (CSDST) were racing at the event but they also found time to teach sponsors and VIPs the art of visually impaired skiing, single skiing and sit skiing – ‘it’s a lot harder than they make it look!’ became a common cry of participants!

The weather was mixed but SSgt Dougie Macpherson 1 LSR was on top form. Coming first in four of six events, he was crowned Overall Individual Army Champion alongside Gnr Vicky Inman 14 Regt RA whose steady racing throughout the week garnered her the overall Ladies Individual Army Championship trophy. Dougie was also named Men’s Army Team Captain at the end of the Championships; only the second NCO to have ever received this honour. Of note were Lt Aimee Touton 1 RHA, OCdt Louise Dodd SUOTC and Cpl Jonny Marsden 27 Regt RLC who all won two events each; the latter two became the much coveted Army Downhill Champions. The overall Team Champions were 1 LSR and the Corps winner was the Royal Logistic Corps.

Some inevitably question the relevance of such sport — they have obviously never been scared-witless in the start-gate of a downhill race or felt the huge pressure to complete a technical event in a team race!  Courage is needed, in spades, and of course determination, teamwork, leadership, fitness and many other personal qualities; just what is needed in training and operations.  Many hundreds take the challenge and a chosen few make it through to qualifying at the Army championships, but they have all experienced the adrenalin-driven thrill of racing and of doing something well outside their comfort zone!

The Championships again displayed the best of sport in the Army and, as always, to be able to stage such an event it needed significant resources and support; sponsorship is a key element of the mix that makes this possible.  So, huge thanks to our incredibly generous sponsors, many of whom witnessed the event first hand, and congratulations to each and every brave competitor!

(Further images can be viewed here)

Mike Gilbert, Senior Vice President Optronics (UK) Selex and Graham Harroway from Lockheed Martin UK presenting prizes to racers.

‘I place a huge premium on sport in the Army. My starting point is that it helps our Army win in battle. It plays a vital role in welfare, morale, operational effectiveness and recovery. Sport produces soldiers who build and lead teams by habit and reflex. It generates and maintains cohesion. It nurtures pride and that essential corollary – humility. It encourages leaders to think clearly, confidently and positively when under pressure. Fundamentally it feeds a winning culture and ethos that inspire hunger for success on the battlefield. So as we transition from several years of campaigning to a new era where we need to be ever ready for a broad range of challenges, our soldiers must be given opportunities for sport, challenge and adventure. Thank you all for supporting Army Sport: it is hugely appreciated.’