Ex FROSTED BLADE is the annual Infantry ski championship held in Val d’Isere (France). Run for five weeks over the Christmas period, the exercise aims to test Infantry soldiers both physically and mentally whilst developing them as race skiers who will compete at the Divisional and Army championships. Ex FROSTED BLADE caters for all ability levels and provides a venue where all Infantry Battalions can race against each other in the four alpine ski disciplines.
This year the 1st Battalion’s team of 8 was made up from 5 novice and 3 experienced skiers. The team arrived on the evening of Saturday 8th December but did not start training until Monday. This offered time for some relaxation and the opportunity to explore all Val d’Isere had to offer. Sensibly priced accommodation is at a premium during Frosted Blade so there was also some vital team bonding before 5 weeks of living together in a confined space.
Monday morning dawned rather quickly and all teams were paraded on snow at 0800 hrs. Instructors were met and a 4 week training package started that would take some individuals from complete novices to Championship racers. To the surprise of some, the training tempo was intense; all groups caught the first lift in the morning, broke briefly for lunch and skied until the lifts shut. As a result it wasn’t too long before there were some fatigued bodies on the slopes, notably from those individuals who were still exploring all Val d’Isere had to offer. For this, and a variety of other reasons, the demanding skiing caused teams to start picking up injuries.
Christmas leave was appreciated by all the team and used for some genuine R&R of battered bodies after 2.5 weeks of intense ski training. On returning from leave specific race training started as there was only a week before the race championship. Attitudes to evening entertainment altered. Suddenly the apres-ski beer was swapped for a waxing iron or edge file. Racers must have confidence in their equipment if they are to throw themselves down mountains at speeds in excess of 60 mph.
By the end of the race championship the 1st Battalion had walked away with a team bronze in the night Slalom, and LCpl Killoran had walked away with an impressive medal haul achieving an individual silver in slalom, an individual bronze in Super Giant Slalom, and an individual overall Gold. The team finished 4th overall just missing out on a medal by a matter of milliseconds.
4 members of the team then moved on to the Divisional Championships held in Serre Chevalier where the competition stepped up a significant notch, after which 2 members of the team qualified for the Army Championship. Unfortunately this meant that a complete R Welsh team could not be entered, but they were able to enter as individuals and form part of a ‘hors concours’ Infantry Corps team. During the championship the Infantry team had some impressive results, consistently finishing within the top three in all disciplines and frequently upsetting the non-combat arms.
By the end of the Championship the selection for the Army team was settled; for the first time in a long time a Royal Welshman had made the cut, LCpl Killoran. The Welsh Warrior then went on to represent the Army at the Inter-services Championship held in Meribel. He was part of the winning team and a very well-deserved recipient of Army sports colours.