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3rd March 2016

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10 The Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment Snowboard team, led by 2Lt K Gorman, AGC (SPS) deployed on Ex LOGISTIC BOARDER from 16 Jan 16 until 6 Feb 16. The team participated in a training camp and then competed in the Inter-Regimental championships. These both took place within the relatively small, but established, ski resort of Flachau in Austria.

This year saw 60 individuals totalling 8 teams from across the RLC strive to qualify for a position on the RLC Snowboarding team with the view to compete at the Army snowboarding championships, Ex SNOW JACK.

First Week

The team arrived on Ex LOGISITC BOARDER around 1700 hrs on the 16 January 2016 after an extensive journey. Having completed the long drive from Calais to Austria totalling 15 hrs, they arrived in Flachau.

The first few hours were spent registering the team, conducting necessary administration, equipment issue and lessons on how to attach bindings to a board, how to calculate what foot to lead with and general maintenance. Despite the lack of sleep, the team began in earnest with enthusiasm and commitment to learn this winter sport.

All of us commenced training by the Sunday morning having been split into groups based on ability, ‘advanced novices’ and ‘novices’ under the direction of the exceptional civilian coaches.

Cpl Samir, in addition to the coaches, provided detailed and essential snowboard maintenance and preparation lessons. He is leading the way within his group.

The main focus of the coming weeks is to develop the new riders into snowboarders, teaching the basics and then the necessary slalom and speed event techniques required to succeed at the inter-Regimental competition on week two. It is still early days but I am hopeful we may have one who positions well within the novice category.

It has been a challenge to get established in a sport that requires so much kit and expertise and that has been previously dominated by only a few large RLC units. Despite this, our attendance and performance so far has established good links with some of the key personalities and earned us respect from members of the Corps.

The team has developed well over the past week and made a positive impression on the rest of the Corps teams. Despite all of the members being new to snowboarding, every individual has approached the training camp with the correct attitude in order to learn, develop and master the necessary skills and more importantly their ability to push themselves beyond what they thought was possible. Each member has added something to the exercise in their own right and shown real dedication towards the goal of achieving the best result possible at the Inter-Regimental RLC Snowboarding Championships in Flachau.

It has been a challenge, but the team are now heading in the right direction. Despite the kit and equipment issues, the team morale is high and each snowboarder cannot be faulted for their ‘can do’ enthusiastic attitude. The team are gaining some valuable experience in preparation for the competition and the quality of snowboarding is improving daily. The relationships being built with the other Corps teams have been very positive and will stand us in good stead for future competitions. Bring on the next two weeks!

Second Week

The focus of the exercise has switched from developing the snowboarders technique into developing their race potential. The basics have now been established and practiced so that slalom and speed event techniques are honed for competition and racing.

The initial challenge (to get established in a sport that requires so much technical kit and expertise) has diminished slightly due to the vast amount of help given to us by other RLC units on the training camp. The close relationships we have established have allowed us to seek their expertise and we have even been loaned some of the essential kit.

The team performed exceptionally well during their first slalom event with one snowboarder in the open category finishing within the top 12 and another in the novice category positioning within the top three. This was the first time the snowboarders have competed under race conditions. The competition was run as close to the Army Championships as possible, including team captains brief, course inspection, protocol and gate judging.

The team continues to gain respect from fellow RLC units for their positive attitude and determination to succeed in a sport to which they are so new. The likelihood of getting 10QOGLR snowboarders to the Army Championships is increasing daily with practice, perseverance and desire to exceed expectations.

The team have continued to impress me with their dedication and attitude towards enhancing their skills. All members of the team have started to feel the fatigue of nearly 40 hours snowboarding a week but have upheld the values and standards in the highest regard demonstrating what 10QOGLR do best.

The focus on developing the basics of snowboarding into race technique was clear to see and I am very happy to report the successful progression of every 10QOGLR racer. As a team we have most definitely ‘rocked the boat’ of the well-established and close-knit race teams that have a pedigree of snowboarding. The team’s strong performance during the Slalom event is attributable to their attitude to succeed despite not having the experience of other teams.

This can only serve to help 10QOGLR become real contenders for the RLC Championships next year and not just attendees.

Third Week

The first few days this week was mainly occupied with preparing our boards, conducting maintenance and finding our Slopestyle legs-‘flare and style’. This was a significant change of pace from the slalom event.

Conducting Slopestyle practice provided a great opportunity to recce the rest of the mountain at Flachauwinkel, in particular the parks. We were able to rehearse jumps, general tricks and box training all in preparation for the competition.

Finding not only the creativity but also the courage to try out and persevere with such technical features, jumps and tricks has been a true test. This was the primary focus.

The team have yet again impressed me with their positive attitude and willingness to get things done. I have noticed, and other team captains have commented on the ‘esprit de corps’ within our team, it is fair to say we all have a joint aim (not just surviving the endless falls, knocks and hits) and everyone is contributing towards it.

Results

The challenging conditions and strong competition proved to be notably tough this year for a predominantly all-novice team. Of the 8 teams, however, 10QOGLR sat comfortably in 3rd place within the novice category.

As individuals, there were some remarkable results. Specifically, Cpl Samir Malla achieving 12th within the open category in Giant Slalom and LCpl Nom Tilija Pun positioning top three within the novices. These were both by far the biggest shock, to both the team and other competitors. Such results on what was deemed to be a tough hill, was an exceptional result.

The Slopestyle event also saw some promising results. LCpl Nom Tilija Pun impressively placed third once again. Cpl Samir Malla held his own, constantly remaining mid field throughout the Championships and beating many far more experienced racers.

For our first championships, it proved extremely useful not only as training for next year, but more importantly, in understanding and competing at this winter sport. The competition was a tremendously fulfilling experience that most definitely tested courage and physical stamina, pushing all outside of their comfort zone. The experience gained is invaluable to the future success of 10QOGLR snowboarding.

Jai QOGLR!

2Lt Kitty Gorman

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