Both B Squadron Royal Yeomanry (RY) and D Squadron Royal Yeomanry took part in Exercise Snow Fox in January 2019 to complete a week of skiing in the French Alps. You can read more about both units adventures below:
B Squadron RY
The unit’s exercise started with their squadron members travelling to Val D’Isere in the French Alps, a stunning skiing location and home to the group for the forthcoming week. After a quick transfer of equipment to the designated rooms, it was over to the hire store to gather equipment for the week’s activities.
On Sunday, the first day of skiing, the day started with a briefing of all skiers, from which everyone was organised into teams for the Sunday. The day was spent with the tutors, assessing everyone’s skills and gauging abilities. From the morning brief until returning to the Chalet at 1630, it was technique improvement and getting back onto the skis.
On Monday, more training was undertaken with the aim of inspiring confidence into the beginner skiers so that they could compete in the competitions at the end of the week. For the others it was all about developing their technique and posture.
Tuesday was dedicated to running green slopes, working the techniques from Monday into moving on larger slopes. The weather allowed for access to most of the slopes, however the lack of fresh snow meant that the slopes where slightly more than icy. The end of the day was spent on the practice slopes.
Wednesday was quite different to the previous three days. The weather was a white out, with high winds and poor visibility meaning that the beginner groups were relegated to the smaller slopes and more technique practice. As the weather improved a little in the afternoon, there was chance to make a single run up a blue slope followed by some green slopes.
Thursday involved a bus journey, and then three chair lifts to the base of the glacier with a chance of having a go on the slalom slope. The race involved the 28 beginners doing two runs each. SSgt George came 4th overall and was best in group, which then qualified him for the main race on Friday. The end of the day was spent on blue and green slopes.
Race day started with a briefing on the top of the race slope followed the opportunity to try the course so the competitors knew what to expect. SSgt George said “this was the scariest thing that I had done all week, and my first run was enough to move me from 103rd to 71st. After a slightly worse second run meant I finished 74th overall.”
D Squadron RY
The exercise comprised of personnel from D Squadron, based in Dawley Bank, the wider regiment family and its fellow Yeoman Regiments. The exercise aimed to develop soldier’s skiing ability in order to participate in a final slalom race towards the end of the exercise.
The trip was open to both soldiers and officers from the regiment of all skiing abilities. It took place in the vastly beautiful Val-d’Isère in the French Alps, near the Italian border. The exercise itself gave all the participants the ability to explore the many slopes and surrounding area, both during the day time skiing and at night enjoying the après ski. Skiing instruction was provided by local expert instructors, whose knowledge and skills were put to the test to ensure everyone made the most of the opportunities. Everyone attending learnt something new and improved.
The skiing comprised of different elements within the tuition, ranging from orienteering, free-ski and racing. These all tested the individual’s ability on the slopes which was a great experience for all skiers.
Off piste the team enjoyed a range of activities. Some organised by the hosts of the week, the fantastic team from Ski Val’s Chamois D’or, saving us any effort of leaving the chalet.
Val-d’Isère also offered a host of other activities including a trip to the spa or gym and sampling the local cuisine like escargot or fondue. Val-d’Isère never left the team short of activities to take part in.
The main aim of the exercise was to develop soldier’s skiing ability in order to participate in a final Slalom race towards the end of the week. After only one weeks skiing and tuition Trooper Macleod took place in the final slalom and took 54th from 115 participants which is an astonishing achievement, congratulations to him.
This is testament to Trooper Macleod formidable effort towards skiing, the level of tuition provided by instruction and the opportunities the location provides Trooper Hordley took a very respectable 26th place and vows to return and beat it again next year. 2Lt Fitzgerald took home a small prize as runner-up best beginner skier, having never touched snow before, unfortunately for him injury prevented him from skiing in the race.
Snow fox is an incredible opportunity not only for a soldier to try something new. Whether an aspiring Eddie the Eagle or casual thrill seeker the exercise has plenty to offer.