Capt Sarah J Smith AGC (ETS)
Adrenaline junkies… your Bobsleigh Team needs you!
The Army Bobsleigh Team is recruiting now. Tired of speed limits? The faster the better on the icy highway! Our training caters for all levels, and for some has proven to be the gateway into international level sports. The season runs from Oct – Mar each year and consists of 3 Ice Camps, and 1 Army Push Track Championship at the University of Bath.
- Army Push Track Championships – Meet and greet the team, push training and race at the Athletes Training Village, University of Bath (1 day).
- Racing Ice I – Comprises of 2 individual novice training weeks in December.
- Racing Ice II – The Army Championships (1 week).
- Racing Ice III – 1 week of squad training, and 1 week of Inter Services Racing (2 weeks).
ARMY PUSH TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Army Bobsleigh Team hosts the Push Track Championships at the home of our International and Elite Bobsleigh Athletes at the University of Bath each October. The day is open to everyone, and aims to give those wishing to join our team a ‘look at bob-life’. There is the opportunity to meet the team and coaches, benefit from specific training and tips from our Army members currently representing GB, get a full introduction to the Bobsleigh, and have the opportunity to race on a dry push track. The day serves to open the season, and is a chance to identify early talent. There is always time for a social after! So come along and try something new and make some new mates!
EX RACING ICE I
Novice Training Camp
The Novice Training Camp takes place at the Olympic Bobsleigh Track high in the Alps in Igls, Austria each December. The camp runs over 2 weeks, and novices can apply for week 1 or 2, stating their preferred discipline, Luge, Skeleton or Bobsleigh. The aim of the camp is to offer young aspiring athletes the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of Bobsleigh, and attempt both braking and driving as part of a 2 man/woman team. The camp benefits from top class coaching from 2 of our ex GB and Olympic athletes, who go right back to basics teaching the technical aspect of the sled and sliding dynamics. By day 2 the novices will experience their first slide from the ladies (Damen) start. Despite this being a ‘gentle’ build up to driving the track from the top… it may still give the sensation of being re-born through the screaming jaws of the sound barrier itself, as the sled generates speeds of up to 100kph on the training runs. Then it is to the top!!!
It helps to arrive prepared for this extreme sport, with a fair level of physical fitness and a robust and positive attitude to get the sliders from ‘zero to hero’ on the mountain. The 2019 season saw 25 soldiers and officers successfully complete the Bobsleigh training camp with some returning for the Army Championships. Our recent success stories are of Pte Luke Dawes and Pte Olly Butterworth PARA, completing their debut season last year and were quickly accelerated onto the driver training camp in Lake Placid, New York, both of whom now represent GB in 2 and 4 man Bobsleigh. WO2 Zoe Beckett also qualified on the 2018 novice camp and was part of the winning team of the Army championships a month later. Sgt Shannon Murphy QARANC and Pte Becky Humphries RAMC have also just represented the army team at the UKAF Inter-Services Championships in Mar, after only completing their debut season in Dec 19, along with new pilot Pte Olly Warner PARA who impressed everyone with his podium finish at the Army championships, winning Male Army Champion 2020. If you would like to get involved this season, apply direct through the AWSA website. Alternatively you may find us on Facebook and Instagram @britisharmybobsleigh. All links and events are published regularly and the team are ready to answer any questions you may have. We hope to see you on the Ice this season!
EX RACING ICE II
Army Novice, Junior and Senior Bobsleigh Championships
Regiments assemble! The sound of ice walkers crunched the freshly sprayed ice as the sun rose over the frozen mountains in Winterberg, Germany. The pilots get a first glimps of the 1.5km track (one of the fastest of our circuit), which is easy to see why when one looks down the intimidating slippery slope into what feels like the storm drain from IT, as the clown ushers you into the depths of despair (corner number 9). “They all crash down here”…
30 sliders, from novice to seasoned pro, turned up to battle it out on the ice in January, with 14 sleds in play and 10 regiments represented. The week was fast and furious, with sliders wrestling with the horns of their unruly sleds to master the racing lines of the Winterberg gladiator, reaching speeds of up to 130kph through the lower labyrinth, sometimes upright! The pilots would wake early each morning to walk the track with the coaches, memorising each and every detail of the track and the actions on in each of the unforgiving turns. Meanwhile the brake-men and women took part in S&C training to prepare themsleves for the days training runs. This 14 turn track challenegd each and every pilot in diferent ways. The upper half being reasonably ‘gentle on the soul’… separated by the Kreisel (German for Gyro) at the half way point, just to spin you around like a NASA G-Force training capsule, before it spits you out at speed into the right, left combination. If corners were days, number 9 would be a Monday! The technical turn requires precision from the pilot, who is navigating the track from memory at approximately 100kph at this point, and if one even thinks about daydreaming about better times, the turn would shake you upside down for your CILOR. The sled would accellerate into the labyrinth faster than a drill sergeant can shout LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT! Sleds would cross the finish line at approximately 130kph with the athletes coiled like springs after driving through the G-Force of the high pressure corners. The adrenaline rush of crossing that line and forcing the brake forks down into the ice is a rush like no other. You made it!
The race was completed over the last 2 laufs (slides) of the week. Both the male and female teams demonstrated exceptional performances on race day. Each brake-man and woman exploding into action with gritted teach and some mild expletives as they powered the sleds off the top of the mountain. The pilots held their nerve through the time warp to the finish. It is the best men and women on the ice that day who will reign victorious. It is worthy of note that 8 of the male teams were novice sliders, with the male Army Champion only having learned to drive 1 month prior, and the female team piloted by Cpl Shannon Murphy, also novices, achieving a podium position with bronze on the day. Captain Jo Ellett, who won female Army Champion has just seen her first season representing GB in Monobob after being selected in Oct 19. The results of the Army Championships 2020 were as follows:
Female Army Champions Capt Jo Ellett RE & Cpl Dom Burge QARANC
Female Runners Up Capt Sarah Smith AGC (ETS) & WO2 Zoe Beckett RADC
Male Army Champions Pte Olly Warner PARA & Cpl Steve Round PARA
Male Runners Up LCpl Jase Joseph PARA & Pte James Duncan PARA
Male Novice Champions Pte Olly Warner PARA & Cpl Steve Round PARA
Female Novice Champions Cpl Shannon Murphy QARANC & Pte Becky Humphries RAMC
Fastest Brakewoman Cpl Dom Burge QARANC
Fastest Brakeman Cpl Steve Round PARA
EX RACING ICE III
UK Armed Forces Inter Services Championships
When three tribes go to war! The Royal Navy & Royal Marines, Army and Royal Airforce went head to head in Konigssee, Bavaria, at the UK Armed Forces (UKAF) Inter-Services Championships 2020. The services came armed with an arsenal of highly polished steels and Bobsleighs, with sliders ranging from complete novices to Olympians. Even Team Jamaica made the coolest of appearances, with Shan Williams of the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team sliding on behalf of the RAF. LSgt Lamin Deen Gren Gds, Pte Olly Butterworth PARA and Pte Luke Dawes PARA arrived fresh from the World Cup circuit to represent their home team (Army), with Lamin’s pedigree within the sport spanning 2 Winter Olympic Games. The positively competitive atmosphere in a game where anything can happen on the ice makes this a truly addictive sport.
The Deutsch Post Eiskanal, spanning 1.2km with its famous S combination and aptly named corners named after the infamous Eagles Nest (Kehlstein), perched on top of the mountain in overwatch nearby, proved a challenge from the start. New pilots worked hard to wrestle the most technical track of the season, with ice snipers on every turn waiting for the smallest of errors, ready to flip your viewing angle 180 degrees and test the temperature of your humour! There were a series of events across the training week, which inspired face ache laughter, from lost shoes in the track, to matrix style transitions between corners (4 runners optional), and slips and crashes. But nothing was going to stop this Red Team from taking it to the block on race day!
The Army Squad compete for a place on the Army Team by the end of week 1, going into week 2 preparing for the race ahead with a composition of 4 male teams and 3 female teams. Our successful members, some of which had impressed on their novice and Army Championships, won a place on the team to race the other 2 services, were armoured with the pre-selected members from our elite athletes. The Army currently has 6 of its members representing GB this season, and 3 more pending further selection. It is worthy of note, Rfn Tom Harris RIFLES, completed his debut season and was quickly scouted for his talent after his exceptional performance on the squad, and will attend trials for GB this season.
The UKAF Inter-Services Bobsleigh Championships was held over 2 days, 4 Laufs, over approximately 5 km of ice and including 40 athletes. The competition was fierce, and each service gave it their all, with some unexpected results, and a few unforeseen race day crashes, as the ice deals the cards on the day! Through blood, sweat and tears, racing is racing and ice is ice! But after all, the Army Team fought hard and through a spate of bad luck, both male and female teams were disqualified for crashes. The results of the Inter-Services Championships 2020:
The RNRM won Gold in the team event. The RAF swept up silver and the Army Bronze, with only 4 seconds, over 5km between the fastest and slowest sleds of each service, making it an intense race! The Army saw some personal achievements in the individual race, seeing LSgt Lamin Deen and Pte Olly Butterworth winning Gold as individuals and Captain Sarah Smith AGC(ETS) and SSgt Zoe Beckett RADC, finishing on a podium finish with an individual silver medal.
As the beast that was Konigssee breathed its last breaths, the war was over! The sportsmanship and camaraderie was unquestionable, as athletes from all three services came together to cheer each other over the line. Celebrations were had by all and prizes were awarded, with everyone feeling accomplished. The serious nature of this adrenaline sport sets it apart from any other, and creates an environment which strongly promotes respect, loyalty, team cohesion, courage, mental and physical robustness on a whole new level! Once you have felt the rush of ice sports, it will be difficult to forget it… not only being part of an incredible extreme sport and sharing your ice with world class athletes, but also being a member of the ice sports community, this is belonging.
So… Got game???