Winter Sports

Military Ski Guides Talk About Hitting The Slopes At Meribel

Brett Wild and Gary Smith are guides for British visually impaired skiers.

Brett Wild and Gary Smith are usually seen on the slopes as guides for British visually impaired skiers, Millie Knight and Kelly Gallagher.

The pair, however, have taken time out to represent the Royal Navy and the RAF at the Inter Services Snow Sports Championships in Meribel.

“I actually feel like I have a lot more pressure here than I do when I’m skiing with Millie now,” Able Seaman Brett Wild told Forces News.

“I feel like everyone expects, because I’m skiing for 150-200 days a year on snow, that I’m going to kind of miraculously win this,” he adds.

"I’m trying so hard to stop skiing like a guide but I’ve not been that successful so far his week but we’re coming to my favourite event.”

Able Seaman Brett Wild and Corporal Gary Smith.

Able Seaman Wild is preparing for the slalom and while Able Seaman Wild hasn’t been breaking any records this week, he has been enjoying his time back with the Royal Navy.

Regardless, his priority for now is the Great Britain set up.

“It’s great fun, I love being Navy Ski Team Captain, it’s my first year and I love doing this but it’s not my priority.”

Corporal Gary Smith has not been racing after he picked up an injury at the Para Alpine World Championships in January where he and Kelly Gallagher won three medals - a silver and two bronze.

“Crashing downhill warm-up,” Corporal Smith recalled.

Corporal Smith, however, has remained busy coaching.

“I’ve coached on a few winter camps for numerous years so it’s great to meet the new guys here on the team and be able to use my experience.”

The Inter Services Snow Sports Championships are where it all started for these military ski guides and coaching is not new to Corporal Smith who has been bringing his experience to the RAF for years.

Corporal Gary Smith guiding Katy Gallagher.

But as a guide, it has been a long road back to recovery for his colleague, Kelly Gallagher, following a high speed crash in 2017.

Corporal Smith thinks they are almost back to their best:

“I never thought we’d ever ski downhill again,” he admits.

“But she’s done amazing to conquer that fear over the last couple of years and to get out of the start gate of a downhill is an unbelievable achievement for her". 

The pair even won a silver medal, adding up to what he describes as a “great week”.

Both Corporal Smith and Able Seaman Wild have enjoyed their time back with the British Armed Forces but once Meribel is over they’ll be back in GB training.