In February 2016, the renowned ski resort of Méribel celebrated its 10th anniversary as host of one of the most exciting and competitive events on the European winter sporting calendar. The Inter Services Snow Sports Championships, which took place in February, is an annual event that pits the men and women of the Royal Airforce, Navy, Army and Marines against one another in a friendly but spirited competition, which leads on to entry into events at national and international level. |
This year marked the 65th edition of the championships, which also includes events in Switzerland and Germany throughout the season, and the Méribel schedule included an itinerary of Alpine skiing, telemarking and snowboarding.
The 2016 Championships
The Countess of Wessex, who is a patron of the CSWSA (Combined Services Winter Sports Association), was in attendance at the opening ceremony of the 2016 championships, which was officiated by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton (GCB CBE ADC Gen). The entire field of several hundred competitive personnel marched in front of the audience of distinguished guests, and the proceedings were followed by the very first races, the Snowboard Parallel Slalom Floodlit Finals – in which the Army dominated in both the men's and women's events.
Unseasonable Weather but Exciting Racing!
The unseasonably warm conditions and lack of snow at Méribel made some of the earlier events in the week a little more challenging for the competitors - although all the more exciting for spectators, with a good helping of thrills and spills!
The Main Events
• The 2016 championships saw a record number of competitors in the Men's Telemark Sprint event, which was hard fought but eventually saw the Navy at the top of the winners' podium, with the Army coming in second and third. The longer Telemark Classic, which is set over two heats, also saw the Navy placing first with the Army bringing in second and third positions.
• A good dumping of snow mid-week provided a fast course for the downhill ski events, in which the team from the Royal Navy came up trumps overall for the very first time. The Giant Slalom was fought out in a couple of exciting battles, with the women's placings ending up with as Army first and third and RAF second. In the men's event, the Navy took out first and third placings, with the Army taking second position on the podium.
• On the last day of the championships, the popular Snowboard Slopestyle events rendered great results for the Army, placing first and third in the women's, with Navy second. In the men's race the Army took out second and third positions, with the Navy first.
An Army Victory
When all the events of the week were done and dusted, the Army claimed victory as combined champions overall, with individual champions crowned from the RAF (women) and Army (men).
• Alpine Skiing Team Combined Champions: Army (men and women) • Snowboard Team Combined Champions: Army (men and women) • Telemark Team Combined Champions: Army
Getting to Méribel
If you missed seeing the 2016 Inter Services Snow Sports Championships in person, there's always next year! But if you fancy trying out the fabulous slopes of Méribel for yourself for a winter break, even if you've only got a weekend to spare it's very accessible.
If you're coming by Eurostar from the UK, you can connect with a regional train service to Moutiers, then a special ski bus (which only runs seasonally) will take you the rest of the way to the resort.
It's much quicker to fly, though, and from the UK it only takes around and hour and a half to Geneva, the most convenient airport to access the various ski resorts of the Three Valleys. If you want to get from Geneva to Méribel in the fastest, most convenient way, pre-book a private or shared shuttle to meet you at the airport and transport you and your ski equipment right to the door of your chalet or hotel in the resort. The picturesque drive through the Alps will take around two and a half hours.
Lukas Johannes is a driver for Shuttle Direct, the number one provider of shared and private airport transfers all over Europe and northern Africa. If you need a transfer from Geneva to Meribel, Lukas and his colleagues can make sure that you get to and from the airport swiftly and safely with your ski luggage and ski equipment.
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