However disaster struck when Austria closed their borders for an emergency lockdown. After much anticipation and uncertainty the wait paid off. Once the all clear was given, a dash to the border was made.
Once the team had arrived in Alpbach, they quickly fell into a routine of training. Smaller than previous years, this team comprised 4 novices; Tpr Stevenson, Tpr Ainslie, Tpr Ryan and Tpr Beamish, and 3 more experienced skiers; Lt Scrutton, 2LtEdwards and Cpl McLean. Cpl McLean was the only returner this year and served as the SME on all things Alpbach. For the first week or so the team was split into the different abilities however under the diligent tutelage of the team's instructor, Gerhard, the first timers were taken from zero to hero.
Christmas, as always with the Alpine Skiing Team in Alpbach, was a big occasion, with homemade stockings and a roast goose dinner. Tpr Ainslie had already become a local legend after going viral in Alpbach for his efforts in the annual Christmas Tree Run. As he found out, skiing down a mountain carrying a Christmas Tree can be tricky, much to the enjoyment of onlookers!
By the end ofDecember race training had begun, and that meant gates. These total beginners,who not too long ago resembled Bambi on ice, were now tearing down the pistes getting faster and faster times every run. However it was not to be as the pandemic struck again, the Divs were called off, just in time for the fresh snow. The team continued with race training but now Gerhard added in a bit more free skiing and took the team off piste in order to build more all-round skiers. In the deep snow a multitude of wipeouts ensued. Skis, poles and bodies peppered the landscape in the beginning, but the novices quickly grasped the new discipline without much trouble.
Despite the disappointment with the races, the team learned a huge amount and has now regained a solid base to build on for future years.