Navy’s women snowboarders led the way with a close to perfect performance at the interservice snowsports championships to help Navy take out the competition against a hungry Army side, and determined Air Force side who were defending their title.
The Australian Defence Alpine Snowsports Association conducted the Australian Defence International and Interservices Alpine Snowsports Championships at Perisher, and Blue Cow ski fields, New South Wales, from 16-21 August.
Sailors alongside soldiers, airmen and airwomen competed in the two disciplines of skiing and snowboarding in various events, accumulating points for their respective services over the week-long competition.
The snowboarders competed in the parallel giant slalom and boardercross races and slopestyle, freestyle event.
The skiers competed in giant slalom, slalom and skicross races.
Competing in her fourth consecutive championship, snowboarder Lieutenant Harriet Cameron, of 816 Squadron, HMAS Albatross, said the week was an outstanding success for Navy.
“We had a great preparation in the single-service championships, so we all had a bit of match fitness coming into this week,” she said.
“It feels fantastic to get the clean sweep for Navy.
“I can’t wait to get back here next year to defend our title.”
Navy women’s snowboarders managed to take out the top three spots in parallel giant slalom, skicross and only a second placing to Army in the slopestyle got in the way of a complete clean sweep.
This was enough to give Navy the top three in the women’s overall snowboard rankings.
Snowboarder Petty Officer Danielle Humphries, of Defence Force School of Signals, who placed second in the parallel giant slalom and first in both the skicross and slopestyle cemented herself into the top spot overall.
“The single-service competition set me up for this week,” she said.
“This is my sixth year at competing in this competition and it’s the strongest women’s team I have ever seen.
“To take the podium in the manner we did is unprecedented; I’m so proud of the team and what we have achieved, the men did really well too – it’s been a great week for the Royal Australian Navy.”
Able Seaman Communication and Information Systems Emma Hook, of HMAS Cairns, who uses triathlon training to keep her fitness up for the snowsport season, took out first in the parallel giant slalom and third in the skicross, which was enough for second overall in the snowboarder rankings.
Able Seaman Hook said she had been snowboarding on and off since she was 12.
“I’ve just returned to competition boarding after two years at sea,” she said.
“It felt surreal to take out first in the parallel giant slalom and to be racing against Petty Officer Humphries is great, she’s been around a while now and is somebody I look up to.”
The male snowboarders also did Navy proud taking out first and second in the slopestyle and placing third overall in the male snowboarding rankings against a strong Army team.
The skiers managed podium finishes in both male and female events with the men taking first and second and the women finishing third overall, thanks to consistently strong performances from Able Seaman Stephen Gray, of HMAS Albatross, who said there was more to the competition than winning.
“Sure it feels great, but to be able to support, encourage and mentor the other guys is more important for the team and our results reflect that,” he said.
“This is actually my first time competing here with Navy, but I did grow up skiing from a young age at Guthega - I also worked as an instructor and coach there for a bit.
“The whole time we’ve spent up here has been great, our camaraderie is strong and we’re just enjoying the competition.”
Able Seaman Julien Jais, of Fleet Support Unit - East, placed third in the giant slalom and slalom and took out second in the skicross, which was enough to take out second place overall in the Alpine ski placings.
Able Seaman Jais said this was his fifth consecutive year in the competition.
“I’ve been lucky to have been released each year to attend,” he said
“I’m happy with my performance, especially after sustaining a bad ankle injury here last year; I had a fairly long recovery with heaps of physio to get fit to compete this year.
“The team is very strong this year and it’s great to get a bit of revenge on the Royal Australian Air Force after they did so well last year.”
In his first year as patron of the Alpine Snowsports Association, Major General Jeff Sengelman acknowledged the dedication of those who organised the event.
“I wish to thank all those who work behind the scenes for many months, or even years to make all this happen,” he said.
“I know when I was asked to be the patron, and I gratefully accepted, I thought that would come with obligations, contribution and delivery on my part; I didn’t expect to receive so much in return as I have already - I feel uplifted.
“What I saw in terms of the competition, camaraderie and support for each other, really does reflect in my eyes the very best about who we are and who we want to be.”
Navy took out the overall championship with Army a close second, separated by 35 points, and Air Force rounding out the three services, clearly missing some of their star performers from last year.
Imagery is available on the Navy Image Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20152374.