Telemark Titan: Forces Skiers Star In Tough French Alps Test

It's been a rollercoaster few days for British forces skiers involved in the Telemark Titan Championships 2018 in the French Alps...

It's been a rollercoaster few days for British forces skiers involved in the Telemark Titan Championships 2018 in the French Alps.

It was all to play for on the final day, in a competition marked by cancelled events due to the risk of avalanche and some tense slope sprints.

Telemark is known as the grandfather of Nordic and Alpine skiing, after first being used in Norway in 1868 as a method of transportation through sparsely-populated areas.

Telemark Titan Championships 2018 - Alpine skiing

Involving skill, grace and core strength, it sees skiers compete using specialised equipment to make it through courses of gates and jumps, often uphill.

And as Army Telemark chairman Brigadier Suzanne Anderson pointed out, there was a real mixture of abilities on display at this year's tournament:

"We've actually got what I'd call 'zero to hero'. We've got those that have never telemarked before.

"Some of them have only been on Alpine skis maybe once before, so they're really what I'd call beginners at telemark... [with the level going] all the way up to the British team."

Skiers traverse around obstacles, swerving around the 'loom' on the final run: a challenging loop which hits them right at the end of an exhausting course.

They then race to the finish line, with the entire run taking just a couple of minutes.

On landing jumps, they're marked on whether or not they land in the traditional telemark stance, with a second added to their time if not, or if they hit a gate rather than going around it.

Earlier in the week Forces Network caught up with Major Dafydd Howells, Corps captain of the Army Telemark team, who gave a flavour of the sport:

Almost 100 competitors have been competing in Pralognan La Vanoise. But what goes through their minds as they stand at the starting gate?

Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Second Lieutenant Robbie Houstoun, who will represent the Army at the Inter-Services after coming in third overall behind the University Officers' Training Corps (UOTC)' Ben Emsley, said:

"[I] think positive thoughts, try and not think about falling. [I] visualise landing the jump and the gates after it."

Alongside the British Army regulars and reservists, there is a large representation from the Royal Marines, Royal Navy and the UOTC, while there was also one entry from the Royal Air Force this year.

Many of the UOTC skiers go on to join the Army and continue to build on their skills.

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