RAF Police drop in on the snow

In January FS Gaz Longley, Sgt Geoff Bratt and Cpl Dan Burton from the Police Flt participated in the RAF Alpine Ski and Snowboard Championships in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, Austria.

Upon arrival at Salzburg airport there was a horrible sinking feeling in our stomachs as there was no snow on the ground, but positive messages were received that there would be snow at the resort just over an hour away. Then the journey began and lo and behold the closer we got to resort, more of the white stuff was visible! As we entered resort we saw hundreds of figures enjoying the snow all around the mountain. Bags were unpacked and kit was prepared for the morning to come, but first in truest tradition of our trade a social establishment was sought out.

Skip to the next morning and the fresh powder was ready for our winter sports prowess, even if our heads weren’t! Cue wobbly legs for the two snowboarders, whilst Gaz looked on with a smirk standing tall on his sticks. The day was full of tentative snowboarding, sore heads and the odd edge being caught, but it was all good practice for our races to come.

Now to qualify for duty status all participants had to complete at least one race, which was fine for myself and Geoff as we had booked our own races and were entered in to the Fiacaill Snowboard Giant Slalom. This race was situated on a nice mild red run that instilled confidence in the both of us. However, Gaz had allowed Geoff to book his race for him and he was booked on to the Individual Giant Slalom. This was located on a slope that looked more like a vertical drop than a traditional red run. It goes without saying that he wasn’t too impressed!

Race day was upon us and we parted ways to attend our races. Gaz’s race was the first to start and as he arrived at the start line he noted a fair number of his adversaries dressed head to toe in lycra! Now he was a confident recreational skier, but he now had to race members of the RAF Ski Team…The time arrived for him to complete his first run; out of the gate he flew, feeling more and more confident as he progressed through the course. Upon  crossing the finish line he decided to forfeit the second run to allow him to watch Geoff and my race (a decision he would regret, as upon checking the results that evening he had been disqualified due to missing a gate. His excuse was that he was going so fast he didn’t notice!!)

Geoff and I arrived at the starting point of our race and after close inspection of the course we settled into watching the people before us leave the gate. I was first to race and as I stood at the top of  the start line my heart was beating rapidly, my main goal was to win the inter-section competition between myself and Geoff. As I flew down the course in my head I was Shaun White when in reality I probably looked like Barry White. Next Geoff was up and he shot out of the start and flew through the course with no falls or major errors. We both then completed our second runs in which both of us made mistakes, with me falling at one of the gates. Once I completed my run we checked our times on the official’s laptop and noticed that I was running third overall with 5 runners to go. This led to a nail biting end to the race with both me and Geoff hoping for mistakes from all of the runners. Unfortunately the second to last runner had a blinding run dropping me to fourth, but at least I had bragging rights over Geoff. Congratulation drinks were sought from the Goat Bar that evening for all three of us.

On leaving the resort I had mixed feelings as my wallet wanted me to leave, but I could not think of a better place to be on duty than in the Alps. Hey there is always next year!!