RAF SKELETON NOVICE CAMP
I’M GOING TO START THIS ARTICLE A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY THAN THE NORM AND INSTEAD ASK YOU TO DIVE INTO YOUR MEMORIES AND RECALL SOME OF THE MOST EXCITING MOMENTS OF YOUR LIFE. NOW TRY TO RELIVE IT AND REMIND YOURSELF OF THOSE VIVID FEELINGS AND SENSATIONS YOU HAD DURING THAT TIME. FOUND IT?
Now this next statement may be bold, but I strongly believe in terms of recreational sports, Skeleton is most exhilarating adventure you can have.
Allow me to explain why: This sport will throw you down an ice track round 270 degree corners pulling roughly 4Gs. You will hit speeds anywhere between of 60 and 80mph all the while, hurtling head first an inch from the ground. On a tea tray.
Thanks to the RAF, you have the opportunity to experience this insane sport by applying to join the RAF Skeleton Novice Camp. There are trials held at RAF Waddington in September. Obviously you need a set level of fitness. Your sprint speed and triple jump distance will be tested. If you’re good enough, you will be selected.
I was lucky enough to have the privilege to attend the camp. On the 6th of December 2013, we made the long journey to Igles, near Innsbruck, Austria. A beautiful little town surrounded by the fantastic mountain peaks. We didn’t have much chance to enjoy the views however. We needed to immediately unpack and prepare the sleds for the week ahead, followed by as much shut eye as we can get. The forthcoming adrenaline filled week takes a surprising toll on your mind and body.
On the first day we started half way up the track at the ‘beginners’ start where we ‘only’ hit 60mph! The track is just a blur of white, you body gets slung around the corners, you barely have any sense of which way you’re turning. Everyone who has their first run says the same thing: What on earth just happened?
If you’re feeling up to it, your third run of the day begins at the top of the track. This is where the bobsleighs also start. Don’t worry though, you will only be slowly pushed off; no running yet!
As the week progresses, so do you and at an incredible rate I might add. You begin to get the feel for the steering, you start recognising corners and motions, the track actually forms in front of your eyes instead of being a blur. Your speed increases and your track times drop. By the 3rd day, you forget you’ve only had 6 runs and you’re already trying to beat your previous time.
The week rapidly passes by, and before you know it, it’s race day. Time to show what you have learnt and what you can do. As you prepare yourself at the top of the track ready to sprint with the sled as fast as you can, your mind runs through track sections repeatedly. The cold air of the mountain easily breaks through your sexy RAF lycra uniform. But you don’t notice as your heart starts to race. Your mind clears. Waiting for the green light. It turns from red to green and you push every bit of power through your legs into the sled and you hit that zone in your mind that you’ve been training for all week.
As you reach the bottom the only thing you care about is your time. Did you beat your best? Have you beat your colleagues? For some of us, simply completing the week and competing in the race is a thrill and a rush in itself. Understandably too, as it is a huge achievement just to take part in such a sport.
That same evening, we all gather and celebrate a fantastic week. Awards are handed for all 3 disciplines, Bobsleigh, Luge and Skeleton. There are awards for the fastest push start time, Novice winner and runner up. After, we continue with a few light refreshments and carry on celebrating. Some of us even decide to venture out and discover the local town of Innsbruck.
If you do well and reach the faster times, you will be put forward for the inter-service championships and have the honour of training and competing for a further two weeks. Some service personnel have even gone on to compete at world and Olympic levels.
To conclude, RAF Skeleton is an experience you simply can’t miss out on, it is unlike anything else on this earth it will test every one of your limits. If you face your fear and push yourself to do this sport, whatever situation life throws at you hereon after, you’ll be able to handle it like a breeze.That to me is the greatest reward.
If you are interested and would like to find out more you can visit these two websites
or contact Flt Lt Daniel Mortimer on
BY SAC(T) BOOTH