Gold for Marham at RAF Bobsleigh Championships

After an incredible year of bobsleigh adventures, Senior Aircraftsman (Tech) Ross Brown and Corporal Jonny Snelling from C4i, (the IT support section) RAF Marham headed out in early December to a rather cold and chilly Olympic bob sleigh run, located in Innsbruck, Austria for the RAF BLSA (Bobsleigh, Luge, Skeleton Association) Championships.

At the British Bobsleigh Championships in October the pair gained a silver medal and Ross won the British Best Novice Title. Spurred on by this success the guys were keen to put their best foot forward and show a good performance in the RAF Champs. The pressure was on and the competition was as fierce as ever. Ross and Jonny are lucky enough to work together and so have been able to train outside of work on the sprints and timing. Both were fully aware of the need to put in the ground work to get the sled moving fast at the top. Ross had been lucky enough to go the FIBT (International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation) driver training school shortly after the British champs and had a lot of new knowledge to throw down the track!

The first week is dedicated to training and sled preparation. The sleds require a lot of maintenance and adjustments when sliding and every detail of the sled has to be considered in order to get the valuable hundreds of a second off the times. Jonny, as the Brakeman is in charge of the transport, maintenance and general tinkering of the sled for practice and race day.

On discussing the preparations of the sled, Jonny commented: ‘Preparing the runners for racing can be a very time consuming aspect of the sport. They have to be prepared by hand using coarse paper of ultra fine grades to get the fastest speeds possible. We had some hairy moments in the first few days and I found the heavy sled and faster speeds harder to deal with than I found at previous tracks. The sports takes a lot out of the athletes, both physically and mentally and even just moving over 200kgs sleds starts to take its toll on your body. The days can be up to 16 hours long and it can be totally exhausting.’

Eventually, race day arrived and the tension and build up is electric. In addition to the service teams a civilian team was participating for charity and they were competing against the novice sliders for a separate competition. The tension was palpable and everyone wanted to prove themselves on the day. The race is spread over two days and results are taken from both days.

After an exciting year with some intense competition Ross and Jonny succeeded in winning the championships and Jonny won the ‘fastest brakeman’ trophy!

A fabulous achievement especially considering that the pair are brand new to the sport and only began training for this event last January.

The pair are looking forward to 2012 and the new sliding year and hope to bring their best efforts to the Inter services in February back in Innsbruck, Austria. The Army and Navy are notoriously competitive and it is hoped that Ross and Jonny can put in a good performance for the RAF, and of course Marham.

Look out for updates, we will keep you updated on their progress – meanwhile all the very best from everyone at MARHAM!!

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