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Ex Frosted Blade by Capt Adrian Thompson


1 MERCIAN Alpine Ski Team: Capt Adrian Thompson, Lt David Payne, Cpl Dylan Beckett (3 MERCIAN), Pte Josh Griffiths, Pte Damian Lloyd, Pte Ashley Weston


It was with just a small amount of trepidation that we stood at the start of the Downhill course reflecting on how far we had all come in five short weeks of ski tuition. From falling down the nursery slopes on Day One to tackling the first Black Run only 6 days later, Exercise FROSTED BLADE had transformed us from ski ‘virgins’ into passable skiers and would-be racers.


Ex FROSTED BLADE is the Infantry Alpine Ski Camp and Championships – 5 weeks of training and 1 week of racing in the French ski resort of Val d’Isere. Preparation usually begins around 6 months earlier, with equipment purchase and fund-raising, but the team from the 1st Battalion proved that it could be done in a lot less time and with no equipment at all! The format is mirrored across the Army and the Alps, before moving on to take part in the Divisional Championships in Serre Chevalier and Les Contamines and then to the Army Championships in Serre Chevalier. The opportunity exists for over 2 months of skiing – a considerable amount of time for any Infantry unit to lose a team of 4-8 people – but worth the return in terms of welfare and sport.


22 October 2009


It was a little difficult to justify to other envious officers and soldiers that the camp would not revolve solely around the fabled world of après-ski (as Capt Brunskill swore blind it would), and that skiing for 7-8hrs each day would actually be quite tiring, but we quickly learnt to save our energy and focus on getting to the mountains. Of course there existed plenty of opportunities to sample the infamous nightlife of Val d’Isere, but the majority of competitors quickly realised that skiing on a hangover is not a pleasant experience, particularly when trying to adapt to a new sport; and coupled with the weakening pound (which seemed to be falling quicker than your author down the slopes) frugality quickly became the order of the day, and early nights were necessary to ensure we all had enough energy to attack the slopes with fervour the following day.


The training was well structured to allow both experienced skiers and complete novices to arrive at the start of the race week having spent considerable time practising the various disciplines. For the novices, training began on the nursery slopes on Day 1, with cries of, “Sir, you expect me to get down that?” By the end of the first week


they were tackling the most difficult runs with enthusiasm and a worrying amount of speed. A large amount of training is directed at Giant Slalom (GS) training which is where competitors race over a 1 to 2km course passing through approximately 40 to 50 gates making ‘technical turns’. Other disciplines include Slalom (a short course with quick, short turns), Super G, which is all about speed and making slightly less technical turns than GS, and Downhill, where the aim is to get to the bottom of the mountain as quickly as possible (in one piece!).


Around 90 competitors took part in this years’ Infantry Championships, drawn from across the Regiments and with guest teams from Exeter and Oxford University OTCs and Army Training Regiment Pirbright. Several teams had either just returned from operations or were in the middle of preparing to deploy, highlighting that even given the current operational tempo there still exists the opportunity to get soldiers away for sport and adventurous training. The team from the 1st Battalion also brought along Cpl Dylan Beckett from the 3rd Battalion as a last minute substitute following an injury to one of the original team members. Cpl Beckett’s


The Mercian Eagle


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