RAF Dominates Inter-Services Ice Sports Championships

Air Force athletes were victorious in the skeleton, luge and bobsleigh...

The Royal Air Force has dominated the Inter-Services Ice Sports Championships in Austria, winning overall titles in three sports.

Whilst the UK was being hit by the Beast from the East, it was warmer than usual temperatures for the final days of the tournament in Igls.

There were athletes representing all three services in bobsleigh, skeleton and luge.

Director of the championships, Wing Commander Heather Ratnage-Black, told Forces Network:

"We've got people who have had three weeks on the ice, [at] the start of this month they'd never been to an ice track before and we've got Olympians that are just fresh back from Pyeongchang who are... here to compete for their service."

One of those Olympians was Corporal Rhys Thornbury, who came 14th in in the men's skeleton in Pyeongchang.

He helped the RAF to victory in the men's skeleton while fellow Air Force athlete Lou Webb finished first in the women's event.

The weapons technician had just a few hours before beginning the inter-services competition after travelling from the Olympics. He said of his time in South Korea:

"It was an amazing experience... It was great to represent New Zealand and represent the Air Force as well and just the services in general... It was great to show the world what I could do."

The Air Force's Ben Fulker and Army's Nathan Jackson came second and third respectively in the men's, while the Navy's Iliana Veneti took second and RAF's Chelsea Ainsley third in the women's.

A healthy rivalry appears to be developing between Senior Aircraftman Fulker and Cpl Thornbury, who said:

"He [SAC Fulker] is sliding and racing really well as part of the British development programme.

"From previous years when I've raced against him, to see where he is now... He's right on my heels this week actually!"

Flight operations assistant SAC Fulker said:

"I'm having quite a few good runs and I think he's having a few difficulties with his sled, but I'm pleased with how I'm racing at the minute and I'm keeping him on his toes!"

The RAF also won the luge overall, with Luke Farrar first in the men's category and Danielle Scott, of the Army, top of the women's event.

Sergeant Scott took a few moments at the top of the track to visualise her race, which helped take her to a win.

British Army luge athlete Danielle Scott 2018

Elsewhere in the men's, the Army's Ray Thompson and RAF's Mark McQuitty were second and third respectively, while the women's continued with the Army's Lucy Wyatt in second and the Air Force's Sophie Ellis in third.

It meant the RAF won the overall luge title, with the Army settling for second.

And the Air Force's success continued in the team bobsleigh.

The RAF won both the women's and men's titles, with the Army taking second place in both, leaving the Royal Navy in third.

Private Nick Gleeson, another competitor fresh from Pyeongchang, helped his team finish as runners-up.

The 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment man said he was excited to be back racing against the military, this time as a pilot rather than a brakeman:

"Everything's going pretty well at the moment. Hopefully, by Beijing 2022, I want to be there as a pilot... and try and get us a medal hopefully!"

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