Musician Emma Newbold is a musician in the Band of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, part of the Corps of Army Music (CAMUS). During a normal working day she plays the clarinet in wind band or marching band supporting the Army worldwide. She tells us about her participation and training in the Army Snowboarding Championships 2013 (Exercise SNOWJACK).
After a long and exhausting 31-hour drive from Edinburgh to Austria, I arrived in a little village called Neustift. I had previously visited Neustift the Christmas before, for a snowboarding holiday. Coincidentally, I met the Army snowboarding commander whilst I was there. After observing me for the week, he gave me the opportunity and the information to compete for the Corps of Army Music (CAMUS) in Ex SNOWJACK.
As I am the first and only member of CAMUS to compete in snowboarding, there were no ‘training camps’ that I could attend with fellow musicians. So I was kindly placed on to the Royal Engineers training package to prepare the week prior to the competition.
The Royal Engineers training week consisted of four parts. Firstly, we had to establish which riders were at an intermediate or senior level, by completing a full morning of back-to-back riding on all terrains of snow. The slopes come in three different levels. BLACK, being the most difficult. RED, being slightly challenging and BLUE being the easiest and basic level.
The week started off in the ‘fun park’. This is practice for the slope-style racing or commonly known as freestyle event that kicks off the start to the competition. As an Army rider you have to be capable of completing two ‘kickers’ (steep jumps, demonstrating various tricks) either on a blue or red slope. Secondly you are to perform man0euvers and safely tackle the boxes and rails.
After concentrating most of the week on techniques and skill improvement we got the opportunity to rehearse the second and third part of the racing, slalom and boardercross. I deducted 26 seconds off my overall time on slalom in the first week and felt I vastly improved the boardercross route, even though this practice event was not timed or accurate.
Competition – slope style/freestyle.
Brief description Freestyle involves the rider using man-made terrain features, such as rails, boxes and large kickers.
How it is graded: Tricks performed during the race. How many and how complicated the tricks performed are. Also the height, speed and fluency of the overall run on each obstacle.
The weather was freezing for the best part of three days in the training week; it drastically changed for the better on the first day of qualifying for the slope style competition. There were 70 – 80 members overall taking part, from different Corps and Regiments. We had the best part of two days to practice and decide what tricks and obstacles to tackle to allow us to gain the most points. I decided my best option was to straight ride the blue kicker and complete a 50/50 over the box. I qualified in to the top 32, but unfortunately on this event I was wiped out on my third run leaving me in 28th place.
Brief description – Riders race head to head on Parallel Giant Slalom courses with the winner advancing to the next round.
The second event was the slalom course, which fortunately we had received many hours of training the week prior to the competition. The qualifying of the slalom took place over two days, as you had to race down twice individually to get an average time. Once the judges had established the top 32 competitors, the riders paired up and raced to get the final 16. Both riders would complete both red and blue course, racing twice, to obviously keep the competition fair. This process would repeat itself through the top eight, four and then final two. Obviously, ending with the one winner. I managed to qualify down to the final eight but came to a standstill at 6th place!
“Wootang” – Boardercross
Brief description – In Boardercross four riders race down a course similar to a motorcycle motocross track (with jumps, berms and other obstacles constructed out of snow on a downhill course).Competitions involve a series of heats, with the first two riders in each heat advancing to the next round. The overall winner is the rider that finishes first in the final round.
The final three days of the competition were approaching and the final obstacle was making everyone nervous. Boardercross is known for its risky, dangerous and painful outcomes. There were hours of inspecting the course and discussing tactics with the team captain. The “wootang” I found one of the hardest obstacles to concur. It is a vertical drop at the very beginning of the race, which carried four people straight into two steep rollers. It became the first danger trap, putting five competitors in the hospital on the first day.
The races began on the last day. The glacier had a heavy drop of snow the night before the race. It perfected the course leaving it with the best conditions we’d had so far. Like the two previous races, it started off with the qualifying. However, as there were injuring from the practice run of the boardercross and previous races, there were enough people to qualify into the final 64. The first two to finish the race would then proceed into the next 32, then 16 and final eight. Once the final eight were established, we then had the finals of the males and females, racing separately. I qualified to the final and finished fourth overall.
Ex SNOWJACK 14
The Army snowboarding championships takes place every year in March (Neustift, Austria). However, there are training camps/weeks that take place prior to the competition to improve different sections of riding. EX SNOW METHOD (Oct 2013) is the Army snowboarding freestyle championships. However, for those who are not so confident on the kickers, boxes and rails there is only two days of competition and the rest of the week is training. You can still attend as a basic rider and have an introduction to freestyle. This would allow you to take part in the Army Championships the following year. It would be great to put a CAMUS snowboarding team together to attend Ex SNOWJACK 14!